No. 1 Texas women’s tennis looks to unseat No. 2 North Carolina as reigning ITA Indoor Champion

Ana Sofia Meyer, Sports Reporter

Following the ITA Kickoff, No. 1 Texas is poised to face their toughest competition of the season at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship beginning Friday. This year, 16 teams will vie for the title of 2022 Indoor Champion at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The ITA Championship began Jan. 28 with regional Kickoffs hosted by the top 15 teams in the draw. Given their position at No. 1 in the nation, Texas was awarded the top seed in the Kickoffs with North Carolina, Georgia, California and Pepperdine filling in the rest of the top five slots. 

To qualify for the championship, each team had to win their Kickoff bracket. Due to their host status, unranked Wisconsin was granted a bye for regionals. The Badgers enter the tournament as the only unranked team out of the 16 qualifiers. 

At the Austin regional Kickoffs, the Longhorns breezed by Florida Atlantic and SMU, beating both teams 4-0. Now, Texas moves on to the championship, ready to face rival program North Carolina with hopes for a potential rematch of last championship’s final. 

In a similar fashion, the Tar Heels skated by their competition at the Chapel Hill Regional Kickoff with two 4-0 wins over Charlotte and Tulsa, guaranteeing them a chance to defend their 2021 ITA National Team Indoor title. 

Over the last nine seasons, North Carolina has won the championship five times, making it to the finals every year since 2015. Last season, top-seeded North Carolina defeated third-seeded Texas in a thrilling set of matches.

The Horns held off the Tar Heels in the first half of the matchup, taking a 3-2 lead going into the second half of play. However, the team fell apart in the last two matches, giving up the win to the Tar Heels in a devastating manner. 

“(We) unraveled,” head coach Howard Joffe said to The Daily Texan after last year’s loss. “We were leaking oil all the way home.” 

Since the loss, Texas has proved their worth as the top team in the nation. Almost a year later, the Longhorns have yet to drop a match. With standout sophomores Peyton Stearns and Charlotte Chavatipon in burnt orange, this team is one to watch. 

The opening matches are set to begin on Friday, Feb. 11, with the final taking place Monday, Feb. 14.