West Campus has been less busy than usual during spring break. But fans clad in burnt orange still flooded Caswell Tennis Center on Wednesday.
They packed the bleachers at Caswell to cheer on the home team as Texas played host to No. 2 Ohio State (16-2). The burnt orange faithful proudly chanted “Texas Fight” prior to the start of the match, but quickly grew silent as the Buckeyes jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead.
Ohio State played relentlessly in doubles play, winning the first two matches 6-0 and 6-4 to gain a 1-0 lead over the Longhorns.
Ohio State’s JJ Wolf stifled sophomore Harrison Scott in singles play, securing a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory. Freshman Christian Sigsgaard fought tooth and nail with No. 1 ranked singles player Mikael Torpegaard but fell short in a 4-6, 6-3, 2-6 loss.
A sense of shock spread through the stadium as Texas found themselves one loss away from a 4-0 sweep on their home court.
But then the Longhorns woke up.
Senior George Goldhoff kept Texas alive, overcoming a 2-4 deficit in the third set to defeat Ohio State’s Herkko Pollanen 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. The win rekindled the team’s spirit as the Longhorn players began to cheer on their teammates for a comeback.
Both fans and teammates alike erupted with applause after sophomore Leonardo Telles edged out Martin Joyce 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 to make it a 2-3 score.
“You could feel the crowd’s energy,” head coach Michael Center said. “I think that was a big difference in the match. It kept the guys motivated.”
Freshman Yuya Ito maintained a laser focus amongst the surrounding chaos as he battled the No. 3 ranked singles player in the country, Hugo Di Feo. After roaring back to force a third set, Ito pressed forward for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win.
With the score now 3-3, everybody in attendance rushed to court No. 6 to watch sophomore Rodrigo Banzer take on Ohio State’s Kyle Seelig.
Seelig knocked the air out of the crowd by lobbing a return over the head of Banzer and onto the top right corner of the court to take a 5-4 lead in the third set.
Banzer kept his cool, firing back with two straight wins to take a 6-5 lead. Chants of “Texas Fight” began to fill the stadium once again as the two players rallied back and forth.
With the game now at match point, Banzer delivered a strike down the middle of the court just out of Seelig’s reach. Banzer dropped to the floor in pure exhaustion and relief as his teammates rushed to him, throwing water bottles and cups in the air. The 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 victory secured the Longhorns’ 4-3 win over Ohio State.
“It was a special match today,” Banzer said. “I was pretty tired, but I was playing for my teammates, myself and for Texas.”
With wins against No. 13 California and No. 2 Ohio State in a span of five days, the Longhorns (15-4) are playing their best tennis as the post-season draws near. Next up for Texas is a match at home against No. 24 Columbia on March 17.
“We have no easy matches from here on out,” Center said. “But if we keep working day in and day out, I think we have a chance to compete with anyone come May.”