The Longhorns completed pre-qualifying and qualifying matches at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the main draw beginning play on Thursday. Eight athletes traveled to Oklahoma to compete alongside the best tennis players in the country in what proved to be Texas’ toughest tournament yet.
“It’s always a very good event,” head coach Michael Center said. “It’s a great way to test ourselves. I think we’ve played well early at these fall events. You’ll see a greater depth of player now at this tournament, and winning matches is a challenge.”
While Texas has collected a couple of wins this season, including senior John Mee’s singles title at the Cajun Tennis Classic in Lafayette, Louisiana, this tournament is the most grueling of the year. Nothing came easy for the Longhorns in the pre-qualifying stage.
While sophomore Yuya Ito and junior Harrison Scott qualified directly into the main draw, the rest of the team was forced to go through pre-qualifying and qualifying rounds. Mee advanced to the qualifying round, while junior
Colin Markes, redshirt junior Adrian Ortiz and redshirt sophomore Johnny Goodwin were all eliminated.
In the qualifying rounds, Mee joined juniors Leonardo Telles and Rodrigo Banzer in the last stage before the main draw. All three came within two matches of the marquee event. The lone Longhorns remaining for the main draw are Ito and Scott.
“You’ll get challenged — it doesn’t matter how good you are,” Center said. “If you go in there and you think you’ll play your way into the tournament, or you’re not into it for whatever reason, then it won’t work out. You must go in there with a great frame of mind and be ready to compete from the very first point.”
On the doubles side of the event, the team of Ito and Scott made it past the qualifying round to advance to the main draw of the doubles event. The team of Markes and Ortiz — who won the doubles main draw at the season-opening Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational in Midland, Texas — came within one win of reaching the main draw, but fell to Virginia Tech.
“Anytime you win against the best players in the country, you’ll build confidence,” Center said. “I think it’s a significant challenge and a test to go out there and win at this tournament. It is a great opportunity to see where you stand against the best.”
Ito and Scott will take the court once again on Thursday as they look to keep the Longhorns’ hopes alive. A loss will eliminate Texas from the tournament.