ORLANDO, Fla. – The Texas Men’s Tennis team won the 2019 NCAA Championship, its first in school history, with a 4-1 win over No. 3 Wake Forest on Sunday in Orlando. It is also the 55th team title in Texas Athletics history.
In a match where the Longhorns showed great resiliency, Texas fought back on several courts to eventually earn its 29th win of the season to just three losses, which is the most wins in school history since 1974 (31-18), during an era when a significant number more matches were played in a season.
“I was really proud of the team, and I’m sure any Longhorn fan would be proud of the way this team represented the state of Texas, not only today, but all year long,” interim head coach Bruce Berque said. “I’m super happy they get to have this memory and bond with each other for the rest of their lives. They showed true Texas fight today being able to come back after not winning the doubles point and facing some deficits on a few of the singles court. I couldn’t be in greater admiration of the way they competed.”
Trailing 1-0 early after dropping the doubles point, junior No. 7 Christian Sigsgaard took down No. 11 Borna Gojo, 6-3, 6-4, at first singles. In the first set with the score tied 2-2, Gojo picked up a break on a deuce point to take a 3-2 lead, but it would be all Sigsgaard from there as he went on a 4-0 run to take the set. The second set was also knotted 2-2 when Gojo took a 3-2 lead, this time on serve, and again Sigsgaard went on a run, and this time 3-0 to take a 5-3 lead. Gojo made one last effort holding serve on a deuce point to cut it to 5-4, but Sigsgaard finished it in the next game and evened the overall match, 1-1.
Senior Rodrigo Banzer would follow just behind Sigsgaard, rallying for a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Siddhant Banthia at sixth singles. Banzer found himself down 5-2 in the first set, but made a furious comeback by winning five-straight games, including finishing and ending with deuce point wins for the set. The second set would start just the opposite, as this time Banzer took leads of 3-0 and 5-1. Banthia ran off three-straight games, including two deuce points to get within 5-4, but Banzer held serve in the last for the victory and a 2-1 lead for Texas.
On the next court over, senior Colin Markes extended the Longhorns’ lead to 3-1 shortly afterward by downing Melios Efstathiou, 6-4, 7-5, at fifth singles. Each player secured a break to open the first set, but that would be the last of the breaks all the way to a 5-4 lead for Markes that he reached on a deuce point, and in the next game, he captured the break he needed to take the set. Markes also won the first game of the second set, but used two deuce point games to take the lead and then held serve in the next game for a 3-1 lead. It stayed on serve for three more games until Markes broke to even it and then held in the next game for a 5-4 lead. Efstathiou pulled back even with a deuce game at 5-5, but from there, Markes held and broke for the win, extending the Texas lead to 3-1.
It looked as though it might be senior No. 80 senior Leonardo Telles clinching for the second-straight night as he simultaneously was up a set and in a second-set tiebreaker with No. 50 Bar Botzer at third singles. Telles won the first set, 6-3, on the strength of a 3-0 run in the middle of the set that took the score from 2-2 to 5-2 before the 6-3 final. In the second set, Telles had leads of 3-1 and 5-3, but Botzer answered back on a 3-0 run to take a 6-5 lead. Telles forced a tiebreaker and had two championship points up 6-5 and 8-7, but Botzer was able to force a third set with three-straight points.
That brought junior No. 12 Yuya Ito’s match into play against the defending NCAA Singles Champion No. 8 Petros Chrysochos, who took the opening set, 6-3, after starting out with a 4-0 lead. Chrysochos also led, 2-0, in the second set when Ito turned the match around with a 4-0 run that included two deuce points. Chrysochos broke back with a deuce point win of his own to make it 4-3, but Ito closed out the set from there, 6-3. In the third set, Ito established a 3-1 lead and the set stayed on serve from there leading to Ito serving for the championship and taking it at 6-4 sending the team into a dog pile with its first National Championship.
Telles’ match along with that of senior No. 55 Harrison Scott both went unfinished, but both gave tremendous efforts that could have come into play. Scott faced Rrezart Cungu with Cungu seemingly heading toward a two-set win, up 6-2, 4-1, however Scott completely flipped the script, coming all the way back to force and win a second-set tiebreaker, 8-6, leading to a third set in which he went on a 5-0 run.
Earlier in the match, Wake Forest won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. Ito and freshman Chih Chi Huang got home first at third doubles with a 6-2 win over Banthia and Julian Zlobinsky. The first two games stayed on serve with Wake Forest winning first and then Texas on a deuce point. Ito and Huang claimed a deuce point break in the next game to set up a 4-0 run for a 5-1 advantage. Banthia and Zlobinsky picked up the next game but Huang and Ito finished in on serve.
At second doubles, No. 55 Botzer and Chrysochos downed Markes and Telles, 6-3. The Wake Forest pair got out to a 3-0 lead, and while Markes and Telles pulled back to within 4-2 and 5-3, Botzer and Chrysochos claimed the win in the next game. That left the point up to first doubles where with the match tied, 3-3, No. 63 Gadjiev and Gojo grabbed a key deuce point break against No. 5 Scott and Sigsgaard to take a 4-3 lead that they extended to 5-3 on serve. The Texas duo got one game back, but was unable to break in the final game, falling 6-4.
The Longhorns now have three players moving on to the Singles and Doubles Championships. In singles play that begins on Monday, May 20, junior No. 6 seed Christian Sigsgaard will face Juan Aguilar of Texas A&M at 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET, junior No. 9-16 seed Yuya Ito will square off against John McNally of Ohio State at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET, and senior Harrison Scott will play No. 9-16 seed William Blumberg (9-16) of North Carolina at 12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET.
In doubles competition that starts on Tuesday, May 21, the 5-8 seed of Scott and Sigsgaard will meet Simen Bratholm and Nick Brookes of Northwestern at a time to be determined. Tennis Channel coverage of the singles and doubles play begins at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET each day.
No. 2 (2 seed) Texas 4, No. 3 (4 seed) Wake Forest 1
- #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) def. #11 Borna Gojo (WF), 6-3, 6-4
- #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
- #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. #50 Bar Botzer (WF), 6-3, 6-7 (8-10), 1-0, unf.
- #55 Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Rrezart Cungu (WF), 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 5-0, unf.
- Colin Markes (UT) def. Melios Efstathiou (WF), 6-4, 7-5
- Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. Siddhant Banthia (WF), 7-5, 6-4
- #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) def. #5 Harrison Scott/Christian Sigsgaard (UT), 6-4
- #55 Bar Botzer/Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT), 6-3
- Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. Siddhant Banthia/Julian Zlobinsky (WF), 6-2