Turati dominates in Big 12 Championship rematch

Sam Starr

Texas’ women’s tennis team was determined not to allow a repeat of 2019 at the Big 12 Championships, when the Longhorns lost to the Jayhawks in the tournament finals 4–2.

Things are different this year. The Longhorns have notched their second Big 12 regular season three-peat since their first championship title in 1997 and haven’t lost a conference match in 2021. The last time Texas had such a dominant Big 12 dynasty, it secured victories over Texas A&M, Colorado, Baylor and Oklahoma for the conference’s first-ever four-peat from 1997-2000.

The Longhorns got one step closer to their ultimate goal Friday evening, defeating Kansas 4–0 with spectacular performances on the singles and doubles courts and all around exciting play in singles matches.

Now playing in her fourth Big 12 conference tournament, Texas senior Anna Turati, playing alongside senior Fernanda Labraña, received a shot at redemption against Kansas junior duo Malkia Ngounoue and Julia Deming. Having previously met on the doubles courts April 9, both duos hoped to prove their dominance as their match was abandoned and unfinished.

With more preparation and an undying drive to reach the finals, Labraña and Turati quickly took a 3-1 lead. After shouting“Forza” a few times and one complete bullet serve from Anna, Turati and Labraña proved to be the more dominant duo in a stellar 6-2 win in the first set.

In a day of rematches, Turati then lined up against Kansas junior Sonia Smagina for the second time since falling in an absolute battle of a match April 9. Equally headstrong and set on winning the April 9 match, both Turati and Smagina refused to give in, although Turati ultimately lost to Smagina on a third-set super breaker.

With the team’s finals hopes on the line, Turati flew around singles court No. 2 with explosive power and obvious tenacity.

Turati set her forehand to work up 5-4 in the first set. After an extensive rally full of vigorous returns from the senior, she finally closed the first set in a well-deserved 6-4 win reflective of her effort.

Texas keeps their finals hopes alive and now prepares for the Big 12 semifinal match Saturday at 12 p.m.