No. 1 Texas women’s tennis kicks off spring season, title defense at Miami Invitational

Hannah Williford, Sports Reporter

No. 1 women’s tennis started off its spring 2022 season strong this weekend at the Miami Invitational, with victories against ranked opponents in singles and doubles play.

The Longhorns faced off against NC State, Vanderbilt and Miami during the invitational, taking home a total of 10 wins in singles and two wins in doubles.

Texas took the top spot in the ITA preseason coaches poll this January and competed this weekend for the first time since November. As the Longhorns look to bring home back-to-back NCAA championships, the team returned six players from last season and introduced five freshmen to the program.

The Longhorns began their competition in Miami on Saturday, when they took home four singles victories against NC State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.

Sophomore Peyton Stearns beat out No. 8 Jaeda Daniel from NC State in straight sets to kick off the weekend. In addition to Stearns, No. 40 sophomore Kylie Collins fought her way back after dropping the first set 2-6 to win the next two, beating the No. 25-ranked Abigail Rencheli. Sophomore Charlotte Chavatipon and No. 117 sophomore Malaika Rapolu also walked away with singles victories.

In doubles play on Saturday, Texas took one of three matches against Miami, with Chavatipon and Rapolu walking away victorious.

Sunday’s doubles matches were canceled due to weather, but singles matches were able to take place earlier in the day. The Longhorns took on Vanderbilt in singles competition, and walked away with three victories. Stearns took a second straight set win for the weekend, while Collins emerged with a straight set victory against a ranked opponent and Rapolu took a win in three.

During the last day of competition, Texas walked away with three additional singles victories against Miami and a doubles win against Vanderbilt. Chavatipon and Stearns beat out the Vanderbilt duo 6-3 on Monday morning. Later in the day, both Chavatipon and Stearns also won out in singles and Collins took her third singles victory of the weekend.

Throughout the invitational, Stearns won three singles in straight sets and a doubles match. The 2021 Big 12 Freshman of the Year appears to be a force to be reckoned with as Texas enters its spring season.

The Longhorns return home next weekend as they host Texas State on Jan. 23, and remain at home for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s kickoff weekend at the end of January.