After finishing conference play with their third loss, the Longhorns look to bounce back with a win in the conference tournament this weekend against a familiar foe.
No. 18 Texas will take on the host team, No. 34 ranked Texas A&M, in the second match today in College Station. The Longhorns are the No. 4 seed, while the Aggies hold the No. 5 tournament seed.
Should Texas win this match, they will face the No. 1 seeded Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners took the match against the Longhorns by a 5-2 count at the end of March.
This will be the fourth matchup between the two in-state rivals this season. Texas took the last two matches, with the most recent being a thrilling 4-3 win in the final Lone Star Showdown two weeks ago. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, the Longhorns had to weather an Aggie comeback before junior Ben Chen came back from 2-5 down in the final set to win his match and clinch the victory. Texas’ other victory came during the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Team Indoor Championship, which Texas won by a 4-3 count in February.
The Aggies’ lone win against the Longhorns came during the Texas Cup match in Houston, which they won by another 4-3 score.
Historically, Texas has done well at the conference tournament, reaching five of the last six finals, and has claimed four titles, most recently in 2006 and 2010. In order to keep that finals appearance streak up, Texas will need the top of the singles lineup to produce wins and strong play from the doubles teams.
In doubles, the Longhorns are led by the No. 36 ranked duo of junior Chris Camillone and sophomore David Holiner. The pair has an 18-9 overall record and is 8-3 in tournament play. Earlier in the season, they posted a win over a top 10 doubles team from Tulsa.
Also ranked is the duo of junior Daniel Whitehead and Chen at No. 78. The pair has been pretty solid, with a 14-6 overall record and a 5-3 record at the number two doubles line.
In singles, Texas will need to get wins from the top spots, held down by the No. 70 ranked freshman Soren Hess-Olesen, No. 101 Whitehead and sophomore Sudanwa Sitaram, who won his first conference singles title for the number three singles line. Sitaram has been having a solid second year in the lineup, with 27-11 overall record, and an impressive 11-5 mark at the number three spot.
Hess-Olesen has had a fairly good season, considering he is holding down the No. 70 spot in his first year of collegiate competition with a 20-12 record and 9-7 record at the top spot.
Whitehead started the season off well, but has fallen down in the rankings recently with a 9-9 record at the number two line. Granted, he has faced some tough competition in terms of consistently playing against ranked singles players.
Another player that has been solid for the Longhorns is Holiner, who held a nine-match winning streak at one point this season, and has a 4-1 conference record. Holiner had an upset this season when he defeated a USC player ranked No. 41 in the team’s 6-1 loss to the No. 1 team.