No. 15 Texas men’s tennis takes advantage of strong singles play, beats No. 28 Texas A&M 4-3

Matthew Caldwell, General Sports Reporter

No. 15 Texas men’s tennis traveled over to College Station to face No. 28 Texas A&M Wednesday night. With the Longhorns coming off a close loss to No. 8 Georgia and the Aggies being 3–5 in their last eight matches, both teams were looking to get back, but the Longhorns came out on top in the rivalry matchup.

Having already lost at doubles line two, the spotlight quickly fell on line one, where junior Chih Chi Huang and sophomore Micah Braswell faced off against Texas A&M’s Noah Schachter and Kenner Taylor. After a back-and-forth set with several breaks of serve, the score was 6-5, 40-40 with Braswell serving to force a tiebreaker.

The crowd fell silent as Braswell tossed the ball into the night sky and hit a challenging serve deep into the service box, but Taylor managed to time his return perfectly. His backhand, cross-court winner put Texas’ hopes of taking the doubles point to rest.

With singles play underway, it seemed the climactic ending to doubles gave the Aggies momentum as they won the first set in four of the six remaining matches.

Sophomore Siem Woldeab was one of the two Longhorns who took their opening set, winning it 6-4. It didn’t take long for Woldeab to notch another set win and get Texas on the board, 1–1.

The remaining five matches went to decisive third sets, starting with sophomore Eliot Spizzirri at line three. After dropping his first set 3-6, Spizzirri brought his game to a new level. He proved too much to handle for Matthis Ross, taking the second set 6-4 and scorching through the third set 6-1. Spizzirri showed everything he has in his arsenal, using dropshots, lobs and perfectly placed shots to move Ross all over the court.

At the time, Spizzirri’s win seemed like a necessity for the Longhorns, but Braswell and senior Richard Ciamarra pulled away late in their third sets.

Braswell had dropped his first set after getting broken late in the set, but came back and did the same thing to Schachter in the second. Using the momentum he had garnered from the second set, Braswell took it to Schachter, taking the third set 6-2 and giving Texas a 3–1 lead. The win marked his sixth in a row, improving on his already strong season.

One match away from clinching the win, No. 32 Ciamarra put everything he had into breaking No. 98 Raphael Perot. His efforts proved successful as he broke Perot twice late in the third set, winning it 6-3. Ciamarra closed the door on Texas A&M and picked up a ranked win in the process.

With the overall score 4–1 and the overall match already decided, the remaining two singles matches played on. Huang fought hard, but fell just short in the third set, with his final match score being 5-7, 6-4, 5-7. Filling in for freshman Pierre-Yves Bailly, sophomore Evin McDonald looked to take advantage of his opportunity on court. He played exceptionally well in the first, but a tight second set tiebreaker that went the way of Texas A&M seemed to take the energy out of McDonald, as Luke Casper would roll through the third set, 6-2.

Although the final score of 4–3 looks close, the Longhorns showcased their best singles play of the season. Losing the doubles point can prove to be fatal in many instances, but Texas fought hard and stunned the Aggies, winning the next four singles matches.

The Longhorns will enjoy their ride back to Austin, knowing they beat a solid Texas A&M squad. The road ahead doesn’t get any easier though, as the Longhorns are set to take on No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday.