The future is bright for Texas men’s tennis prior to the second annual Oracle ITA Masters beginning on Thursday.
Freshman Yuya Ito heads to Malibu, California, to represent Texas as the No. 1 seed and heavy favorite, the first time a Longhorn has done so at the event.
The tournament comes less than a week after he and freshman teammate Christian Sigsgaard completed deep runs through the singles draw at the ITA All-American Championships — both overcame multiple top-50 ITA-ranked opponents.
The Oracle Masters features a single participant from each Division I conference in both male and female categories. It includes a 32-player singles draw, up from 16 in 2015, as well as a rarely-seen mixed doubles draw. The selection criteria follows closely that of the NCAA tournament.
Ito’s first match begins Thursday against Kei Ezaka of Quinnipiac University. Other notable competitors are No. 27 Nick Crystal of USC, as well as No. 28 Ryotaro Matsumura of Kentucky. The two are seeded No. 5 and No. 2 respectively.
At last weekend’s All-American event, Ito notched five wins in both the qualifying and main draws before losing in the top-16 in a three-set match to No. 37 Alfredo Perez of Florida. The victory that landed Ito in the round of 16 came against No. 48 Logan Smith of USC.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Longhorn roster ramps up for the ITA Texas Regional Championships, which is held next weekend in Fort Worth. The event features every NCAA Division I men’s tennis program in the state, with the winners advancing to the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, New York.
Led by a stout freshman class, Texas hopes to solidify a standing as the state’s top tennis program. Play begins on Oct. 21.