Spring is a time of renewal. It also signifies the return of the Big 12 gauntlet for Texas.
The Longhorns sought to start conference play with a strong performance against Kansas State. The Wildcats needed to capture a victory, but fell to an 0–3 record that plummeted their ranking within the Big 12.
The afternoon deviated from previous Texas matches as the Longhorns started with an early lead, securing the doubles point for the first time in six straight matches.
The sophomore combination of Bojana Markovic and Fernanda Labraña surprised Ioana Gheorghita and Maria Linares with a furious rally that resulted in a 6-4 victory. Juniors Anna and Bianca Turati wrapped up doubles with a 6-4 victory over Ines Mesquita and Karine Marion-Job.
“It felt different to start with a lead,” Markovic said. “It had been frustrating since we had been losing doubles despite our best efforts, so this was a good feeling.”
Junior Petra Granic continued to power the Longhorns charge in dual match singles play. She knocked off Job by dominating 6-2 in the first set and earning the second point with a hard-fought victory of 7-5 in the second set. The match also marked the fifth consecutive win for Granic, who has emerged as one of the best players in the Big 12.
Bianca Turati experienced a similar situation in her matchup with Maria Linares. The first set went smoothly as Bianca foiled Linares, 6-3. Despite the early loss, Linares managed to pull within one in the second set and tied Turati with a deuce. However, Bianca claimed a 6-4 match point with a superb backhand, giving Texas a three-point edge overall.
Kansas State received a slight glimmer of hope through Gheorghita, who scraped by freshman Tijana Spasojevic in three sets 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Consequently, the fifth singles spot was destined to be a showdown as Kansas State’s Anna Turco headed into a third set that could culminate in a turning point.
It appeared that pendulum of momentum was beginning to swing the other way, with Turco leading 5-4 in the third set. Markovic swiftly squashed the comeback, winning her next three games en route to a 7-5 victory and thereby granting Texas with a victory in this year’s first conference play.
Labraña added to the sweetness by acquiring a three-set victory over Ines Mesquita 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
“Kansas State is always a tough match,” Labraña said. “Last year, we lost our first six against them, and this year we struggled in the second set. However, since we were all struggling, it motivated me to fight harder.”
Anna Turati extended her win streak to seven in an intense 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory versus Margot Decker. Anna’s win wrapped up the day for Texas as the Longhorns won 6-1 and improved to an overall record of 8–3.
I hope that today’s match will better prepare us for Kansas,” Texas head coach Howard Joffe said “Matches like these help the team bond closer together.”