Texas sweeps Northwestern 4-0, heads back to Sweet 16 in Orlando

Ross Fisher

The Texas men’s tennis team is heading back to Orlando, Florida, where the program took home its first ever National Championship back in 2019.

No. 4 Texas put away Northwestern 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA Championship on Sunday, just as they had done in the first round the day before. The pair of sweeps at the Texas Tennis Center ensures that the Longhorns advance past the Regional stage in Austin and will head to Florida to play No. 13 South Carolina in the Sweet 16.

Northwestern made for tougher opposition than Northern Arizona, who Texas also put away 4-0 the day before, but head coach Bruce Berque said Texas raised its game accordingly.

“That’s what I was expecting and definitely hoping for. I think we did a good job out there. I thought Northwestern was a good team, who competes hard and plays some pretty good tennis,” Berque said. “(There were) a lot of close sets and matches in doubles, but we rose up in some key moments in a lot of cases, and I thought it was a good match for us for sure.”

The best programs save their greatest efforts for the NCAA tournament, especially when they come up against a top team like Texas. Berque feels good about the way his players are handling the adversity that comes with constantly having a target on their back.

“It’s definitely something a lot of the guys are learning to do, because for most of them it’s either their first or second year in college tennis, and just about for all of them, it’s their first NCAA tournament,” Berque said. “But I do think we did a pretty good job of that today, and I think we’re going to continue to get better at that.”

In doubles, Texas junior Chih Chi Huang and sophomore Cleeve Harper picked up a solid 6-3 win at No. 2, putting the onus on courts 1 and 3. Both the No. 1 and 3 matches were tied at 5-5, until freshman Micah Braswell and senior Payton Holden found a break to win 7-5 and grant Texas the doubles point.

Texas put together a string of impressive performances in singles, winning five of its six first sets and setting themselves up for a quick sweep.

In singles, Huang was the first off his court at No. 5, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Sophomore Siem Woldeab was next up, winning 6-4, 7-5 at No. 3. Then, No. 108 Harper clinched the match with an impressive 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles.

Berque said he feels the team is playing at a similar level, thus far, to where the 2019 national champions were, but that there is still a long way to go.

“I think I had a similar feeling in that year, but obviously this is zero indication about what that means or where we will finish an NCAA tournament. But I do think our guys will believe that they’re capable of beating anybody on any day,” Berque said. “I think they should be confident and looking forward to the Sweet 16.”

From this point on, Texas will be facing the country’s most elite programs, where anything can happen. Texas will play South Carolina in the Round of 16 on May 17, and if they advance, they will face either No. 5 Virginia or No. 12 Southern California in the Elite 8.