Men’s tennis wins 6 in a row with 6-1 rout of USF

Ross Fisher

No. 7-ranked Texas men’s tennis strung together one of their most dominant displays of the season on Saturday, posting a comfortable 6-1 win over No. 29 University of South Florida.

The Longhorns moved to 14–3 on the season following their sixth-straight victory and second-straight home victory at the Texas Tennis Center.

Much like they have all season, Texas started slowly in doubles. However, the Longhorns battled back to win at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots to take the crucial doubles point. Texas did not change their doubles lineup from last weekend’s match against Arizona, and seems to have found its ideal rotation, head coach Bruce Berque said.

“I think our doubles is overall better,” Berque said. “I think we have settled in on our teams, at least for now.”

Sophomores Siem Woldeab and Eliot Spizzirri, who are now ranked 18th in the latest ITA Individual Rankings, went down 3-0 early to USF’s No. 14-ranked pairing of junior Rithvik Bollipalli and senior Jakub Wojcik. Inspired by some fantastic play at the net from Woldeab, the Texas duo went on a 5-0 run and ultimately upset the No. 1 USF pairing 7-5.

The most experienced duo on the court for Texas, junior Chih Chi Huang and sophomore Cleeve Harper won 6-3 at No. 2.

At No. 1 singles, No. 32 Spizzirri had one of his best career performances as a Longhorn, beating No. 45-ranked junior Chase Ferguson in straight sets in 6-3 and 6-2.

After nursing shin splints the past couple weeks, No. 85 Woldeab returned to singles action for the first time since March 5, to play at No. 2. Despite his shins feeling better, Woldeab battled an undisclosed illness and was visibly frustrated with his loss.

Woldeab was the only Longhorn to lose on the day, and Berque said his injury and health issues prevented him from being mentally locked in.

“Siem (Woldeab) had a tough day, he’s been battling back some different injury and health issues,” Berque said. “He was really distracted by that and was not at his best mentally because of it.”

Even though Woldeab could not get the win, his inclusion allowed the rest of Texas’ singles lineup to move down a spot and match more favorably against their opponents. No. 18-ranked freshman Micah Braswell has proved a matchup nightmare for any singles player, let alone at the No. 3 spot.

With a 6-4, 6-2 win, Braswell brought his record to an astonishing 30–2 in his first season at the collegiate level. Braswell was the first men’s Division I player to reach 30 wins this season, with five more wins than any other player.

Harper and Huang also benefited from moving down a spot in the lineup, each winning their matches comfortably in straight sets at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, respectively.

The convincing win comes at an opportune time for Berque’s team, building confidence before taking on No. 8 Texas A&M, a program with six ranked players including No. 1 Hady Habib and No. 5 Valentin Vacherot, on Wednesday. Texas will look to make a statement under the lights at the Texas Tennis Center before they head into conference play next week.