The No. 4-ranked Texas males’s tennis workforce discovered itself down 3-0 towards No.13 South Carolina on Monday afternoon as the top of the season loomed ever nearer. For many groups, a 3-0 deficit to a workforce of South Carolina’s caliber is a dying sentence, however not for the Longhorns.
Texas got here again to beat the Gamecocks 4-3 within the NCAA Championship Spherical of 16 performed on the USTA Campus in Orlando, Florida. With a comeback win, Texas advances to play No. 12 USC on Thursday within the Elite 8.
In tight matches all through the season, it all the time looks like Texas finds the sting. Head coach Bruce Berque praised his workforce’s character and skill to mount spectacular comebacks when different groups would simply quit.
“I feel that is in all probability our seventh or eighth 4-3 match that got here right down to the wire, and we’ve misplaced one in all them. So it’s been fairly unimaginable,” Berque mentioned. “These guys are assured once they get in that state of affairs, with their backs towards the wall, that they nonetheless have an opportunity. That was absolutely the key. I nonetheless don’t know the way we precisely did it down 3-0, however only for now I’m grateful.”
Having misplaced the doubles level, Texas wanted to win 4 of its singles matches to maintain its season alive. Finishing that feat towards a South Carolina singles lineup that options the No. 2, 22, 54 and 67-ranked gamers was a really tall order.
It didn’t begin out on a great notice for the Longhorns. South Carolina sophomore Jake Beasley defeated Texas junior Chih Chi Huang at No. 5 singles. Then, Gamecock freshman Toby Samuel, No. 67, beat Texas sophomore Siem Woldeab, No. 75, on court docket 3.
Texas wanted an ideal efficiency from that time onwards. They did simply that, chipping away on the deficit with a few straight set upset wins.
Texas freshman Micah Braswell, ranked No. 38, began the comeback for the Longhorns, defeating South Carolina No. 22-ranked freshman Connor Thomson on court docket 2. On court docket 4, Texas sophomore Cleeve Harper, ranked No. 108, adopted go well with by defeating South Carolina’s Raphael Lambling, a sophomore ranked at No. 54.
With the No. 1 and 6 singles matches heading to a 3rd set, all Texas needed to do was win each to finish the unbelievable comeback.
It seemed prefer it wouldn’t be that type of day for Texas after sophomore Eliot Spizzirri went down 3-0 in his third set on court docket 1. Simply as fellow sophomore Evin McDonald was storming forward to a 5-1 lead in his third set on court docket 6, one thing clicked for No. 23 Spizzirri.
Spizzirri stormed again to make it 5-3, and finally defeated South Carolina’s No. 2-ranked sophomore Daniel Rodrigues 6-4 within the third set.
After the unimaginable upset, Berque was effusive in his reward for his No. 1.
“That was superior, particularly being down 3-0 within the third set,” Berque mentioned. “That is his first NCAA Match, so he’s mainly a freshman. Enormous win for him — he performed nice tennis. … He’s coming into his personal and understanding somewhat bit higher how he must play towards a few of these high guys.”
Although McDonald held a 5-1 lead at one level, he faltered down the stretch and threatened to lose Texas’ unbelievable comeback. McDonald discovered the spark to carry service together with his again towards the wall, after which got here up with a break to clinch the match for Texas.
McDonald was on high of the world after the clinch.
“It simply makes me really feel so completely satisfied, as a result of we’re simply such a younger workforce. I really feel like everybody retains counting us out,” McDonald mentioned. “At this level I can say we’re in all probability the ‘clutchest’ workforce, as a result of we’re 10-1 in 4-3 (matches) and we simply gotta hold it going. We gotta use this as momentum and simply go on to the subsequent one.”
The comeback win units up a rematch between Texas and USC within the Elite 8, after Texas received the higher of then-ranked No. 1 USC in a ridiculous 4-3 comeback win on the ITA Indoor Championship. That match might be again on the USTA Nationwide Campus on Thursday.