Newly ranked No.1 singles player Eliot Spizzirri helps Texas prevail over Pepperdine

Ryan Hopper, General Sports Reporter

Texas junior Eliot Spizzirri was named the top-ranked singles player in the nation this week for the first time in his decorated career. He is the first Longhorn to be ranked No. 1 since Søren Hess-Olesen in 2015. 

The Greenwich, Connecticut product has earned many honors during his prolific four years in Austin, including being named an ITA All-American for doubles in 2021 and 2022 with junior Siem Woldeab, a singles ITA All-American in 2021 and a multitude of All-Big 12 selections for singles, doubles and academics.

The No. 7 Longhorns took on the Pepperdine Waves on Friday. Both squads were looking to bounce back, coming off losses last Sunday to No. 2 Ohio State and Arizona State, respectively.

Doubles play was full of surprises as Pepperdine took the point in a relatively swift fashion. Texas’ No. 4 ranked doubles pairing of redshirt junior Cleeve Harper and Spizzirri suffered their second loss of the season in an upset against Pepperdine’s No. 38 ranked pair of European graduate students Tim Zeitvogel and Daniel De Jonge. At 3–3, Zeitvogel and De Jonge broke the Longhorns’ serve twice en route to a 6–3 victory.

Clinching the doubles point for the Waves were junior Pietro Fellin and senior Eric Hadigian, who beat Texas senior Chih Chi Huang and junior Eshan Talluri 6–4.

Getting Texas on the board was junior Micah Braswell, continuing his strong season with an efficient win in straight sets over Hadigian 6–3, 6–4.

The second match to finish in singles play was another win in straight sets for Spizzirri, beating Zeitvogel 6–4, 6–2. This brings Spizzirri’s record to a dominant 5–0 on the year, having only lost a mere three sets.

Uncharastically, Woldeab fell behind early, losing the first set to Pepperdine’s Eero Vasa, a graduate student from Finland. However, the Southern California product steadied the ship with a strong final two sets, ultimately winning 3–6, 6–2, 6–2 to put Texas up 3–1.

On court 5, Harper squared off against German freshman Maxi Homberg. After winning the first set, Harper, one of the team’s vocal leaders, let out his distinct, loud “yeah!” a sight familiar to many who have seen him play. Harper eventually pulled through with a laborious 6–4, 7–5 win to seal the victory for Texas.

De Jonge, with his towering 6-foot-4-inch frame, beat Texas sophomore Pierre Yves-Bailly 7–6 (8–6), 7–5 in what may have been the most entertaining singles match of the day as the Europeans showed off their grit during a hard-fought two sets.

Finally, Texas senior Nevin Arimilli won his first match of the season against Fellin 2–6, 6–3, 4–3 (10–8). The Longhorns are back in action on Friday in Chicago at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.