Austin – No. 4 Texas Men’s Tennis bounced back for a 4-3 win over Arizona State on Sunday in the second of its back-to-back matches at the Texas Tennis Center this weekend.
The Longhorns used singles wins by junior Chih Chi Huang at No. 5, freshman No. 78 Micah Braswell at No. 3, and sophomores No. 120 Eliot Spizzirri at No. 2 and Cleeve Harper at No. 4. Texas clinched the match at 4-1 after Harper’s win, but the teams played out the remaining two matches for a 4-3 final.
After Arizona State won the doubles point and took a 1-0 lead, Huang posted an efficient win over Moritz Hoffmann, 6-2, 6-3, to even it. Huang jumped out to an early 3-0 lead that stayed on serve for the next four games to 5-2, but he was able to pick up one more break to close the set. He also opened the second set on a run, this time 4-0, before Moritz answered with two of his own. However, the rest of the set stayed on serve and Huang closed the match with an ace.
Braswell was up next with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Andrea Bolla. The first six games of that match stayed on serve starting with Bolla to a 3-3 score. That’s when Braswell got the first break and used it to spark a 3-0 run to finish the set. Each player won a game to open the next set starting with Braswell, but from there he went on a 4-0 run that included two deuce point wins for a 5-1 lead. Bolla came back with a 3-0 run of his own to pull within 5-4 and was on serve in the next game, but Braswell grabbed a final break to secure the match and a 2-1 lead for Texas.
The next two wins for the Longhorns were both in three sets and finished within minutes of each other, as Spizzirri got off the court first with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Makey Rakotomalala. Rakotomalala got out of the gate quickly with a 4-1 lead in the first set and held that advantage as the rest of the frame stayed on serve. In the second, it was Spizzirri who took a 3-1 lead, recording a break after the first three games were on serve. However, Rakotomalala responded with a break in the next game to put it back on course where it stayed up to a 5-4 lead for Spizzirri before he closed it with another break in the next game. The third set had a run of its own on serve through the first five games to position Spizzirri with a 3-2 lead. The last of those started Spizzirri on a 4-0 run that he used to finish the match and put the Longhorns up 3-1.
That left it to Harper, who prevailed in a three-set match with one-sided scores in all three frames against Max McKennon, 6-1, 0-6, 6-2. The first two games of the match stayed on serve starting with Harper, but he then used a deuce-point win in the next game to propel him on a 5-0 run to take the set. At that point, McKennon turned around with an 8-0 run, including the use of three deuce-point wins in the second set for that win and a 2-0 lead in the third. Harper then flipped the script and used four deuce-point wins of his own to mount a 6-0 run for the victory and to clinch the match for Texas.
In the remaining matches, sophomore Evin McDonald had been involved in a second set tiebreaker against George Stoupe at No. 6 after Stoupe won the first set, 6-4. The second stayed on serve until McDonald picked up a break for a 5-3 lead, but Stoupe answered the break and then held to even it. The next two games were also on serve, but Stoupe held on to the set on a deuce point to send it to the breaker. Points alternated to begin that frame to a 2-2 tie, but then the players alternated 3-0 runs, first by Stoupe and then McDonald. The next three points again alternated until Stoupe claimed the last one for an 8-6 win and the 6-4, 7-6 (6) final.
The last match came at No. 1 where sophomore No. 57 Siem Woldeab faced Nathan Ponwith, who took a three-set win over Woldeab, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Woldeab claimed two deuce points as part of a 4-0 run that closed out the first set, while Ponwith opened the second with a 3-0 run, a margin he held to send it to the third. There, he won the first two games and closed the match on a 4-0 run after Woldeab had pulled back to within 3-2.
Earlier in the day, Arizona State won the doubles point as the No. 14 pair of Bolla and Tim Ruehl downed Spizzirri and Woldeb, 6-0, at No. 1, while Ponwith and McKennon defeated Huang and senior Payton Holden, 6-3 at No. 2. Just before that, the Longhorns earned a win at No. 3 when Braswell and Harper topped Hoffman and Rakotomalala, 6-3. That match stayed on serve up to a 3-2 lead for Texas when they picked up a break and then held to extend to 5-2. Arizona State got one game back on serve, but Braswell and Harper closed from there.
The Longhorns return to the court next Saturday for a home doubleheader against University of The Incarnate Word at 11 a.m. CT and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 2:30 p.m. CT.
#4 Texas 4, Arizona State 3
Singles – Order of Finish (5,3,2,4,6,1)
1. Nathan Ponwith (ASU) def. #57 Siem Woldeab (UT) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. #120 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) def. Makey Rakotomalala (ASU) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
3. #78 Micah Braswell (UT) def. Andrea Bolla (ASU) 6-3, 6-4
4. Cleeve Harper (UT) def. Max McKennon (ASU) 6-1, 0-6, 6-2
5. Chih Chi Huang (UT) def. Moritz Hoffmann (ASU) 6-2, 6-3
6. George Stoupe (ASU) def. Evin McDonald (UT) 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Doubles – Order of Finish (1,3,2)
1. #14 Tim Ruehl/Andrea Bolla (ASU) def. Siem Woldeab/Eliot Spizzirri (UT) 6-0
2. Nathan Ponwith/Max McKennon (ASU) def. Payton Holden/Chih Chi Huang (UT) 6-3
3. Cleeve Harper/Micah Braswell (UT) def. Moritz Hoffmann/Makey Rakotomalala (ASU) 6-3