The fourth-seeded Longhorns rolled into Norman on Friday looking to turn their average season into a great one with a string of wins at the Big 12 Championships.
No. 24 Texas (13-8) saw their hopes of a conference championship slip away, only making it as far as the tournament semifinals.
The Longhorns’ first matchup of the tournament Friday was against No. 25 TCU (13-9) in the quarterfinals. Earlier in the season, Texas crushed the Horned Frogs with a convincing 4-0 shutout win.
It quickly turned into the match of the season, and a comeback for the ages, for the young and resilient Texas squad.
Before the championships, head coach Howard Joffe stressed the need for great improvements in doubles play, but no signs of improvement were seen as Texas dropped the doubles point after two quick losses.
TCU widened its lead to 3-0 after closing out two singles wins in straight sets, giving the Longhorns a steep hill to climb.
The gritty Longhorns never gave up after getting themselves in the three-point hole. Texas stormed back with four consecutive singles victories capped off by a triumphant victory from 42nd-ranked freshman Bianca Turati over TCU’s 57th-ranked senior Seda Arantekin to win the match.
On Saturday, Texas went to battle against No. 7 Texas Tech (24-4) in hopes to move on to the final match, but the Red Raiders were victorious. Texas Tech moved on to the finals against Oklahoma State and eventually won the conference title.
“I feel a lot better about our prospects at the NCAA Championships than I did seven or eight days ago,” Joffe said. “I was very, very proud of our young group today.”
The Longhorns now wait to see if they earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Championships field of 64, which will be announced Tuesday.
“The message to the team now is to lick our wounds for a day or two, get our studies taken care of and get back to practice,” Joffe said. “We want to get after it and try to do what we did last year in those first couple of rounds (at the NCAA Championships).”