Austin – No. 6 Texas Men's Tennis advanced to the ITA National Indoor Championships for the fifth-straight year with a 4-0 sweep of No. 14 Arizona on Sunday at the Weller Indoor Tennis Center. With the win, the Longhorns captured the ITA Kickoff Austin Regional Championship and are now 5-0 to start the year with four of those wins coming against top-25 opponents.
Texas secured the doubles point with wins at Nos. 1 and 2 and followed with singles victories by juniors No. 13 Siem Woldeab at No. 4, Cleeve Harper at No. 5, and No. 30 Micah Braswell at No. 3.
After a strong performance by the Longhorns in the doubles point for a 1-0 lead, Woldeab was first off the singles court with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over No. 54 Herman Hoeyeraal. Depsite three deuce points – two won by Woldeab at 2-2 and 6-6 and one by Hoeyeraal for a 6-5 lead – the entire first set stayed on serve to a tiebreaker. Hoeyeraal served first in that frame and moved out to 2-0 lead, but Woldeab responded with the next two to event it. After the players traded points, Woldeab took his first lead at 4-3 and the players alternated again up to 6-5 when Woldeab snapped the streak for the win. In the second set, Woldeab used a break in the second game for a 3-0 lead before breaking again on a deuce point for 5-1. Hoeyeraal answered the deuce-point break with one of his own and then held for 5-3, but Woldeab served out from there for the match and a 2-0 Texas lead.
A short time later, Harper was next off with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) win over No. 78 Jay Friend. Harper secured the only two breaks of the first set at 2-0 and on a deuce point at 6-2 to take the frame. The second set stayed on serve up to a 4-3 lead for Harper when he held on a deuce point and followed it with a deuce-point break for 5-3. Friend broke back to stay in the match and the next three games stayed on serve to the tiebreaker. The first five points of the breaker alternated between the two until Harper picked up two in a row for a 4-2 advantage. The next four also alternated up to 6-4 when Harper broke through again to win the match and provide a 3-0 lead for the Longhorns.
Three other matches were close to potentially finishing in Texas' favor for the clinch, but it was Braswell who got home first with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) over No. 117 Gustaf Strom. After Strom broke in the opening game and held for 2-0, Braswell responded with a 3-0 run that was capped by a deuce-point hold. Strom also held with a deuce point in the next game, but Braswell closed the set with another 3-0 run. The first three games of the second were all breaks with each player doing so on a deuce point in the first two games starting with Braswell. He was then the first to hold for 3-1, but Strom used a deuce-point break as part of a 3-0 run for the lead. The players took turns with 2-0 runs beginning with Braswell, leaving Strom up, 6-5, but Braswell was able to hold his serve on a deuce point to send it to a tiebreaker. There, it was Braswell who got the first mini-break to take a 3-2 lead, and although Strom broke each of his next serves to go up 4-3, Braswell put together a 3-0 run to get back up, 6-4. Strom got one point back on serve, but Braswell clinched the match with a final break to give Texas the sweep.
In the remaining singles matches, the Longhorns had won the first set in two of them and were in good position in both for wins in the second set. Junior No. 3 Eliot Spizzirri lead No. 19 Jonas Ziverts, 7-6 (7), 6-5 at No. 1 when play stopped. Similar to Woldeab's first set, Spizzirri's also remained on serve the entire way to the tiebreaker with Ziverts collecting the only deuce points for 2-1 and 5-4 leads. In the tiebreaker, Spizzirri was tied or in the lead most of the way, only trailing at 1-0 and then 7-6, at which point he went on a 3-0 run for the win. In the second, despite getting broken on a deuce point in the opening game, Spizzirri generated a 4-1 run for the lead. Ziverts came back with a 3-0 run to tie it, and the last three games then stayed on serve until play stopped.
At No. 6, senior Nevin Arimilli had been inserted into the lineup prior to singles and was making the most of his opportunity, leading No. 74 Nick Lagaev, 6-4, 5-5. Arimilli used a break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead that he consolidated to 3-1 on serve. Lagaev eventually got the break back to even it at 4-4, but Arimilli broke right back and then served out the set. In the second, Arimilli again got up 3-1, this time having used a break in the opening game, and Lagaev again ended up getting the break back at 4-4. Each player then held their next serve when play finished.
Arizona claimed their only set of the day in yet another tiebreaker, and an extended one at that, as No. 85 Colton Smith was leading sophomore Pierre-Yves Bailly, 7-6 (9), 1-5 at No. 2. Even though Bailly opened up a 3-1 lead in the first set, five deuce points defined the remainder with four of them going to Smith, who used the first two to tie it at 3-3. He then took the lead on the next one at 5-4 until Bailly used his to regain the lead at 6-5. The following game also went to deuce, giving Bailly a set point, but Smith claimed it to move to a tiebreaker. That frame would be a back-and-forth battle where neither player held more than a one-point lead until the end for Smith at 11-9. The second set was then all Bailly as Smith held in the opening game, but from there, Bailly went on a 5-0 run until play halted.
Earlier in doubles, the No. 7 duo of Harper and Spizzirri roared out of the gate with a 5-0 run against Ziverts and Hoeyeraal at No. 1 on the way to a 6-1 victory with Arizona's only game coming on serve.
Woldeab and Bailly then clinched at No. 2 with a 6-3 win over Smith and Friend. The Wildcats broke in the opening game and then held for 2-0, but the Longhorns answered with a 3-0 run for the lead. The next game featured a deuce point for a possible break to extend the lead, but Arizona held to even it at 3-3. Despite that, Texas closed on another 3-0 capped by a deuce-point hold for the win.
In the remaining unfinished match, Braswell returned to the doubles lineup and reunited with senior Chih Chi Huang at No. 3. The duo had just secured the first break of the match to go up, 5-4, on Strom and Eric Padgham when doubles play concluded.
The Longhorns now head on the road to face No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT.
#6 Texas 4, #14 Arizona 0
Singles – Order of Finish (4,5,3)
1. #3 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) vs. #19 Jonas Ziverts (ARIZ) 7-6 (7), 6-5, unf.
2. Pierre-Yves Bailly (UT) vs. #85 Colton Smith (ARIZ) 6-7 (9), 5-1, unf.
3. #30 Micah Braswell (UT) def. #117 Gustaf Strom (ARIZ) 6-3, 7-6 (5)
4. #13 Siem Woldeab (UT) def. #54 Herman Hoeyeraal (ARIZ) 7-6 (5), 6-3
5. Cleeve Harper (UT) def. #78 Jay Friend (ARIZ) 6-2, 7-6 (4)
6. Nevin Arimilli (UT) vs. #74 Nick Lagaev (ARIZ) 6-4, 5-5, unf.
Doubles - Order of Finish (1-2)
1. Eliot Spizzirri/Cleeve Harper (UT) def. Jonas Ziverts/Herman Hoeyeraal (ARIZ) 6-1
2. Siem Woldeab/Pierre-Yves Bailly (UT) def. Colton Smith/Jay Friend (ARIZ) 6-3
3. Chih Chi Huang/Micah Braswell (UT) vs. Eric Padgham/Gustaf Strom (ARIZ) 5-4, unf.
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