No. 4 Texas men’s tennis loses out in semifinals to No. 1 Florida, reflects on run

Ross Fisher

With Texas men’s tennis’ flair for the dramatic, head coach Bruce Berque woke up Friday believing his team could do the unlikely and knock off Florida, the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Not to mention that his team had handed the Gators one of their two losses on the season, and beat them in the Final Four last time out in 2019.

It appeared that No. 4 Texas had exhausted all of its magic this season, as the Longhorns fell 4-0 to No. 1 Florida in the NCAA Championships Final Four. Texas’ semifinal loss brought its tremendous season of highs and lows — but mostly highs — to a close on a rainy Friday night at the USTA Campus in Orlando, Florida.

Berque knew his team were underdogs, but still his heart led him to believe that an upset was on the cards.

“I woke up this morning thinking we had a chance to win, but of course, I knew that it was going to be super tough,” Berque said. “But I’d be idiotic to think that this team didn’t have a chance against anyone they’ve played. So I definitely thought we had a chance. I was hoping there was a little more magic. But we’ll have to wait for next year’s team to see the next version of magic that we can produce.”

Even though Texas had run out of magic against Florida, Berque thinks that he will look back on the season quite fondly, and that the numerous comebacks and big wins his team had all season will live long in his memory.

“I’m definitely going to enjoy looking back at a lot of the memories we’ve had. And it’s very difficult to get to the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament, much less the quarters or the Final Four,” Berque said. “Very few people, coaches and players, can lay claim to that. So I think these guys should be super proud of what they did, especially with such relative inexperience on the team. I know they’re going to be disappointed now, but when they look back, they should all be very proud.”

Texas sophomore Eliot Spizzirri was understandably very dejected after the loss but still is proud of the way his team outperformed the expectations placed on them before the season.

“We went out there, and we went for it, it just didn’t go our way. Florida was too good today,” Spizzirri said. “At the start of the season there were a lot of people predicting that we were going to finish 4th in the conference; a lot of people didn’t think we were going to have the season that we had. So I am just really happy.”

Texas made a decent start to doubles, especially at No. 1, but Florida pulled away at No. 2 and 3 to take the doubles point. At that point, the immense quality the Florida lineup possessed was apparent.

Losing the doubles point almost put the match out of reach for Texas, as they needed four wins against a Florida singles lineup that featured the No. 4, 6, 18 and 51-ranked players. The No. 6 player for the Gators is even ranked No. 79.

Florida picked up the three wins it needed to advance to the final, all in straight sets at No. 5, 4 and 3.

Had Texas stuck around in any of those matches, they could have put some points on the board. Before Florida clinched, Texas freshman Micah Braswell had made a huge comeback to win his first set and was winning his second at No. 2. Sophomore Evin McDonald was on his way to upsetting Florida senior, No. 79 Josh Goodger, in his third set, and Eliot Spizzirri was about to take his match to a third set.

With Texas’ 2021 team season over, a few Longhorns will take part in the NCAA Individual Championships starting Sunday. No. 23 Spizzirri will play No. 8 Johannus of Tennessee on Monday, and No. 38 Braswell will take on No. 9 Gabriel Decamps of UCF. No. 11-ranked doubles pairing Spizzirri and Siem Woldeab will face No. 24-ranked pairing Rithvik Bollipalli and Jacob Wojcik from USF.