Texas rolls over NAU, 4-0 in NCAA Championship first round

Ross Fisher

There was no tempestuous aura around the Texas Tennis Center, as there had been previously during Big 12 Conference play — Texas’ NCAA Regional match against Northern Arizona on Saturday was more of an exhibition.

No. 4 Texas cruised past NAU, 4-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Championship, without dropping a set in the process. The Longhorns will play Northwestern in a second round matchup on Sunday, back at the Texas Tennis Center.

Texas got off the mark quickly, winning the doubles point in convincing fashion. At No. 1, sophomores Eliot Spizzirri and Siem Woldeab, the No. 11 doubles team in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, picked up the first Longhorn win of the day, 6-3. Freshman Micah Braswell and graduate transfer Payton Holden clinched the doubles point with a 6-2 victory at No. 3.

No. 38 Braswell looked very comfortable in singles play, winning 6-0, 6-2 against NAU junior Facundo Tumosa before the rest of the first sets even wrapped up. Sophomore Evin McDonald did the same, winning 6-1, 6-1 against NAU sophomore Joachim Schaefer.

With Texas up 3-0 quickly, No. 23 Spizzirri finished his match strongly to put away NAU senior Eban Straker-Meads 6-4, 6-2 and clinch a first round win for the Longhorns.

With Texas being heavy favorites, head coach Bruce Berque wanted his team to not only to get the win, but to do it in a way that would help their confidence going into the rest of the tournament.

“It wasn’t just about winning, but it was also about doing it in a way that made us feel like we did a good job and could instill some confidence in us heading into the next match,” Berque said. “Trying to find a way to get better and train ourselves to be in good, competitive duel match habits.”

In that regard, Berque was satisfied with his team’s play on the day.

“Overall, pretty happy with the way the guys approached this match and prepared for it,” Berque said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I thought the team did a good job after today.”

Texas will face tougher opposition on Sunday against Northwestern, who beat No. 23 UCLA just before Texas played. Berque says that matchup will be a tougher test.

“I think Northwestern has been more battle tested, playing in the Big 10. They just beat UCLA, 4-1,” Berque said. “I think this might be the first time UCLA ever didn’t advance to the round of 16 in program history. I definitely think they’re gonna be a really hungry, competitive and tough team that we’re gonna have to beat and earn the win doing it.”

If Texas can pass tomorrow’s test, they will head to Orlando next weekend for the NCAA tournament round of 16, where they will play No. 13 South Carolina.