Coming off its second conference loss — one that knocked it out of contention for the Big 12 regular-season championship — Texas hosted Texas Tech on Sunday in an important match for positioning in the postseason. Texas overcame a sluggish start to take the match 5-2 and put itself in fourth place in the Big 12.
For the second-straight match, Texas was unable to take the doubles point, but it came back with strong singles play. Senior Kellen Damico leveled the match at 1-1 with a quick win at court one. He beat Texas Tech’s 20th-ranked Gonzalo Escobar in straight sets.
“Kellen Damico had a tough one the other day [against Baylor], but he played solid tennis at the end of his match,” said Texas head coach Michael Center. “He put a lot of first serves in play, stayed consistent and didn’t make mistakes at the end. When he does all of that, he’s tough to beat.”
Damico began the season at the No. 3 spot for Texas but competed over the weekend in the No. 1 spot because of injuries.
Shortly after Damico, sophomore Daniel Whitehead also won in straight sets to give Texas its first lead of the match at 2-1. Texas would go on to win the first five singles matches, with Texas Tech’s only win coming at court two. Senior Ed Corrie fought back after getting shut out in the first set to take the second and force a tiebreaker in the third. After taking the first two points, he conceded the next eight and fell 10-5.
“Jean Andersen made some mistakes in the first set,” Center said. “We felt that if he could make this guy work, make some passing shots and cut out mistakes that he would dictate the match. Jean was really solid in how he finished.”
Andersen and Corrie were the only two Texas players to lose a set in the entire match — all of Texas’ points came in straight sets, including the match clincher from freshman Sudanwa Sitaram.
“They got on top of us at Nos. 1 and 2 [doubles], and we just didn’t make the plays,” Center said. “They did a good job and got that point.”
Texas hasn’t gotten the production it has been used to from the doubles the last couple of matches, but it was able to overcome that with a dominant showing in singles play.
The win put Texas at 2-2 in conference and 16-6 overall. It stands fourth in the Big 12, with Nebraska (sixth in Big 12) and Texas A&M (first) left in the regular season.