Texas advances to ITA National Indoor Championship Finals after trio of wins this weekend

Brock Bolinger, General Sports Reporter

Texas men’s tennis advanced to the finals of the ITA National Indoor Championships on Sunday after defeating No. 9 Wake Forest, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan. 

On Friday, Texas took down Wake Forest 4–0, sweeping the No. 9 team in the country to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the fourth time in five seasons. It was a good showing for the Longhorn’s singles players, as junior No. 65 Michah Braswell, redshirt junior No. 112 Cleeve Harper and senior Nevin Arimilli all won in straight sets. The remainder of the singles matches were unfinished, but both junior No. 1 Eliot Spizzirri and sophomore No. 33 Pierre-Yves Bailly were also just one point away from winning in straight sets at the time of the stoppage.

In doubles play, Texas also had a good showing. The No. 4-ranked duo of Spizzirri and Harper erased a 3–0 deficit to defeat the tandem of Moroni and Azcona 6–4 in the first doubles match of the day. The pair of junior Siem Woldeab and Bailly then defeated Wake Forest’s team of Karimov and Tacchi 6–3. Senior Chih Chi Huang and Braswell battled against the pairing of Efsatathiou and Thomson, but it remained unfinished at 4–4. They advanced to play Ohio State at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

On Saturday, the Longhorn’s faced off against No. 1 Ohio State, a team that swept them 4–0 just two weeks ago. Similarly to the match against Wake Forest, Texas dominated singles play. Arimilli, Spizzirri, Braswell and Bailly all won their matchups. Ohio State’s No. 28 James Trotter and No. 75 Robert Cash both picked up singles victories for the Buckeyes, defeating No. 25 Woldeab and Harper, respectively. 

The Longhorns did not have a good showing in doubles play, however, leading to this match coming down to the wire.

Texas’ performance in singles play was enough to overcome its doubles performance, as they defeated Ohio State 4–3, and advanced to the semifinals of the ITA National Indoor Championships for the first time since 2019. Their next opponent was Michigan, the team that eliminated them from the NCAA tournament last year.

The day started off with doubles play, as Harper and Spizzirri lost to the No. 6 duo of Andrew Fenty and Gavin Young 6–2. At line 2, Bailly and Woldeab defeated Michigan’s pairing of Patrick Maloney and Ondrej Styler 6–2. Texas won its first points of the day as Huang and Braswell defeated Will Cooksey and Nino Ehrenschneider 7–6 (4) to round out doubles play. Texas led 1-0 heading into singles play.

Michigan got off to a fast start in singles play, erasing their 1–0 deficit to lead the Longhorns 3–1. Michigan’s Maloney, Styler and Cooksey all won in straight sets, defeating Bailly, Braswell and Arimilli, respectively. Texas got its first singles win of the day with Harper defeating Jacob Bickersteth 6–3, 6–4 to bring the Wolverine’s lead to just one. Woldeab then tied the score at three-all with his win over No. 36 Young, defeating him in straight sets. 

All eyes turned to the No. 1 singles player in the country, Eliot Spizzirri, as he looked to close out the match.

Spizzirri lost the first set to No. 7 Fenty 6–1 in a dominating performance for Michigan. However, Spizzirri won the second set 7–5, setting the stage for a win-or-go-home third set. After a long back and forth set, Spizzirri defeated Fenty 6–3, winning the final point for Texas and defeating Michigan 4–3. 

“Eliot Spizzirri is the No. 1 player in the country for a reason,” Alex Gruskin said on the broadcast. “He delivered the goods today. The staple Texas fight is back.”

Texas now advances to the ITA National Indoor Championships Finals where they will face off against No. 3 TCU at noon on Monday. Texas is looking for its first ITA National Indoor Championship since they last won it in 2019.