Braswell’s heroics lift Texas men’s tennis over Oklahoma State 4-3

Ross Fisher

Serving for the dual match in a third-set tiebreaker at 6-5, Texas freshman Micah Braswell unleashed a powerful serve, forcing Oklahoma State junior Emile Hudd into a desperate lunge.

The ball looped in the air toward Braswell off Hudd’s outstretched racket, setting up the freshman to slam a vicious forehand. Before Braswell knew it, he was in the middle of a dozen elated Longhorns. No. 6 Texas won in dramatic fashion yet again, scraping by No. 18 Oklahoma State 4-3 at the Texas Tennis Center on Sunday.

After junior Chih Chi Huang lost at No. 5, the match between the favored No. 16 Braswell and underdog No. 107 Hudd became the deciding factor in Texas’ match. Whoever could secure the individual victory would take home the win for their team.

Braswell and Hudd, aware of the magnitude of the match, played at a high level down the stretch. Each landed most of his first serves, ensuring the game stayed on serve until the tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Braswell and Hudd continued trading blows like a couple of heavyweight boxers, neither showing any hint of nerves.

With the pressure at an all-time high, Braswell fought the tendency to ease up and continued to play aggressive tennis.

“If I start to get a little tentative, that never really works too well for me,” Braswell said. “So I always know that I have to go for my shots. (Head coach) Bruce (Berque) always tells us to play aggressive within our style.”

Braswell was no stranger to the situation, having won the clinching match against Tulane on Feb. 27. However, the pressure against Oklahoma State was compounded not only by the close margin of the match, but the extra eyeballs watching from the stands of the Texas Tennis Center.

“This one was really close, and it was just a little different (of a) feeling because the crowd all came down to my court and all my teammates,” Braswell said. “It was definitely a bit of a different feeling having a big crowd behind me, but I think that’s what helped me.”

Braswell’s brother and father, who traveled from Florida to see him play, were among the fans in the stands. Knowing they were in the stands and hearing them scream his name after every point gave him the extra push he needed to get the job done, Braswell said.

Braswell wasn’t the only hero on the day. Sophomore Eliot Spizzirri barely put a foot wrong at No. 1, playing one of his best matches as a Longhorn to beat Oklahoma State senior Matej Vocel 6-2, 6-3. No. 23 Spizzirri has improved since the opponents met a month ago, when No. 38 Vocel won in straight sets.

Sophomore No. 99 Siem Woldeab beat Oklahoma State senior Henrik Korsgaard in straight sets at No. 3 and also won at No. 1 doubles alongside Spizzirri. At No. 3 doubles, Braswell and graduate transfer Payton Holden also won to grab the doubles point for Texas.

The win takes Texas’ record to 17–4 overall and 2–1 in Big 12 play. Sunday marked the team’s last time playing in Austin in the regular season, wrapping up a six-game home stand. On Thursday, the Longhorns head up I-35 to play No. 3 Baylor in Waco, a huge test for Texas after they fell to the Bears twice this season in preconference play.