Texas torches No. 24 Columbia 4-1

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The No. 8 Longhorns (16-4) have grown accustomed to playing from behind as of late, and they did it once again Friday against No. 24 Columbia at Caswell Tennis Center.

Texas crawled out of the gate, looking outmatched in doubles play. The Lions played with fierceness, winning the first two matches 6-3 and 7-6 to take a 1-0 lead. But the resilient Longhorns found their rhythm in singles play, winning five of the six first sets.

“Our backs were against the wall after losing the doubles point,” head coach Michael Center said. “We had the choice to lay down or push forward, and we pushed forward. We just played one point at a time.”

Sophomore Rodrigo Banzer started the run with a dominant 6-0, 6-2 blowout win over Columbia’s William Matheson. Fans at Caswell could smell a comeback brewing as they intensified their cheers, firing up the Texas squad even more.

Tensions grew down the stretch as sophomore Leonardo Telles and Columbia’s Adam Ambrozy exchanged words over a string of controversial out of bounds calls.

Telles silenced the talks with a key 6-2, 6-2 victory that gave the Longhorns a 2-1 lead. Columbia never recovered.

“It’s easy to let (trash talking) get in your head,” sophomore Harrison Scott said. “As a team though, we managed to stay focused and not worry about the things we couldn’t control.”

Senior George Goldhoff made it a 3-1 score with a masterful 6-2, 6-2 beatdown of Alex Keyser. Scott landed the final blow in a 6-4, 6-2 win over Victor Pham that gave Texas the 4-1 victory.

“I think the confidence is really growing with some of these guys,” Center said. “We’re always in good shape when we start competing at all the spots like we did today.”

Texas takes its three-game win streak into a matchup against UT Arlington on Tuesday at Caswell. And although the Mavericks enter the competition with losses in five of their last eight matches, the Longhorns have no plans to let up.

“UT Arlington is a good team,” Center said. “Our goal is to be at our very best in May, so have to keep pushing.”