Siem Woldeab: The hype man of Texas men’s tennis

Ryan Hopper, General Sports Reporter

When he’s not shooting around at Gregory Gym with his teammates or watching Texas men’s basketball, junior Siem Woldeab is doing whatever it takes on and off the tennis court for the No. 7 Longhorns to continue their solid start to the season. 

The No. 25 singles player in the country had a great start to the 2023 season with a 8-1 singles record, including five wins in straight sets. 

However, it’s not just his on-court play that captures attention. What he does after his singles matches, before many of his teammates’ matches finish, also commands attention.

Despite the predictably lopsided nature of Texas’ win over UTSA in its home opener, Woldeab was the loudest person on the court with words of encouragement for his teammates, culminating with an emphatic “Let’s go Texas!” 

“This year, our coaches really put it into us that there’s only one way we want to do things, whether we are playing UTSA, Virginia or any school in between,” Woldeab said. “I wanted to make that UTSA match look like any other match this year.”

True to his word, Woldeab was a spark plug during Texas’ 4-3 win over No. 12 Georgia. During and after his straight sets win over No. 70 Teodor Giusca, Woldeab was a vocal leader for his teammates and got the crowd into the game. A group of students in the stands behind court 3 — where he usually plays — was incited by Woldeab into a brief “Texas fight!” chant.

“There are certain guys on the team like me and Cleeve (Harper) who are a bit louder, and we try to just be the best emotional leaders we can be for our team, which gives us an advantage over other teams,” Woldeab said. “We try to make use of our very close-knit unit.”

Woldeab and his teammates are thinking big this season as Texas has its sights on a second national championship in the last four complete seasons. Despite only two members of the original 2019 championship squad remaining, including senior Chih Chi Huang and redshirt junior Harper, Woldeab thinks the Longhorns can make some noise in the NCAA tennis tournament in May and in next weekend’s ITA National Team Indoor Championship. 

“For a program like Texas, national championships are always the goal,” Woldeab said. 

“We’re definitely older than we were a couple years back when we made the Final Four, and we have a lot more experience behind us.” 

Woldeab and the Longhorns are staying grounded, however, and know that success is about the process and day to day preparation that wins championships.

“Everyone is buying in and being very consistent with the work they are putting in, on and off the court,” Woldeab said. “Our overall goal is more process driven — we’re telling ourselves every day to put in the work and take it one day at a time, which has worked so far.”

Texas looked to rebound this past weekend following their first loss of the season — a shutout against Ohio State in Columbus on Feb. 5. Woldeab also suffered his first loss of the season in straight sets against an unranked opponent. 

“We’re going to bounce back from this loss,” Woldeab said. “We’re going to be the ultimate competitors this weekend, (showing) good grit and resiliency.” 

Woldeab and his teammates proved him correct with their strong showing this weekend, and it was business as usual at the Texas Tennis Center. Pepperdine and Arizona, like every other opposing team this season, came to Austin looking for upsets but lost 5-2 and 4-2, respectively. Woldeab prevailed in both of his singles matches, winning on Sunday against Arizona’s No. 98 Herman Hoeyeraal in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. 

But regardless of how the rest of the season turns out, Woldeab will be right there cheering on his teammates.