No. 12 Men’s Tennis advances to Big 12 Championship semifinals

Fort Worth – No. 12 Texas Men’s Tennis advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship with a 4-0 sweep over No. 54 Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals in Fort Worth on Friday. It marks the fourth-straight trip to the semifinals for the Longhorns, and the 22nd time they have reached them in 25 Big 12 tournaments in program history.

Texas won the doubles point for the sixth-straight match with victories at Nos. 2 and 3, and followed with singles wins by senior No. 95 Richard Ciamarra at No. 3, freshman no. 41 Pierre-Yves Bailly at No. 2, and junior no. 114 Chih Chi Huang at No. 5. The Longhorns had also won the first sets of the remaining three matches.

After doubles, Ciamarra registered an efficient 6-0, 6-1 win over Max Verboven. Ciamarra opened the match winning the first nine games, including deuce points at 2-0 in both sets and one to close out the first set. After Verboven made it 3-1 on serve in the second, Ciamarra closed out the final three games with the last two coming at deuce to give Texas a 2-0 lead.

Bailly was almost as efficient, earning a 6-1, 6-3 win over Alex Garcia to extend the UT advantage to 3-0. Bailly won nine of the first 10 games with Garcia only holding at 3-1 in the first set in that stretch. With Bailly up 3-0 in the second, Garcia broke on a deuce point to get within 3-1, however, Bailly broke right back and held to make it 5-1. Garcia then held and rallied for a deuce-point break at 5-3, but again, Bailly broke back immediately to finish the match.

Huang would be the next to get home to clinch with a 6-4, 6-3 win over former Longhorn teammate Leighton Allen. Huang held on a deuce point to open the match and then broke for a 2-0 lead, but Allen broke right back to put the set on serve again. That’s where it stayed to a 5-4 lead for Huang when he then broke on a deuce point to win. The previous three games had all been decided at deuce, as well. The match went back to being on serve through the first seven games of the second set, leaving Huang with a 4-3 lead. That game then began a 3-0 run for him to his victory.

In the remaining matches, sophomore no. 60 Eliot Spizzirri moved up to No. 1 singles in the absence of sophomore no. 21 Micah Braswell due to injury and faced off against a familiar face in his longtime juniors doubles partner no. 112 Tyler Zink. Spizzirri won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (6), with the second set on serve at 3-3 when play stopped. Spizzirri went up a break at 3-1 on a deuce point at first, but Zink answered it and the rest of the set stayed on serve to the tiebreaker. In that frame, Spizzirri jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Zink responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead. After exchanging the next two points, Spizzirri went on a 3-0 run to turn a 6-5 deficit into an 8-6 win.

At No. 4, sophomore Siem Woldeab came back to take his first set against Francisco Pini. After the first four games were on serve, the players combined for three-straight breaks to give Pini a 4-3 lead that he turned into 5-3 on serve. However, Woldeab responded with a 4-0 run including a deuce-point break at 5-5 to take the set. Pini then opened the second with a deuce-point break, and the last four games stayed on serve to a 3-2 lead for Pini when play stopped.

In the other match at No. 6, sophomore Cleeve Harper led Joseph Chen, 6-3, 4-4, when the match ended. Chen was the lone Cowboy to serve first in singles, and although there were three deuce points in the first five games, they all stayed on serve to a 3-2 edge for Chen. From there, Harper began a 5-0 run to take the first set and hold in the opening game of the second. The first five games of that frame were also on serve when Harper broke for a 4-2 lead, but Chen broke back and held on a deuce point for the 4-4 final.

Earlier in doubles, the No. 17 duo of Spizzirri and Woldeab got off the court first with a 6-4 win over the No. 85 pair of Garcia and Verboven at No. 2. That match stayed on serve to a 4-3 lead for the Longhorns when they got the break they needed at 5-3 and maintained it to win.

Oklahoma State then evened doubles play with a 7-5 win by the No. 45 pair Zink and Sebastian Nothhaft over the No. 3 duo of Ciamarra and Harper at No. 1. The Longhorns had taken a 2-0 lead on a deuce-point break, but the Cowboys answered with one of their own and then held on another deuce to even it. The match then stayed on serve to 5-5 with each team winning one more deuce point in that stretch, but Oklahoma State broke for 6-5 before serving it out.

That left the doubles point to No. 3 where Huang and sophomore Eshan Talluri partnered for the second-straight match and earned their second-straight win, this time 7-5 over Allen and Pini. Texas broke on a deuce point at 3-1 and consolidated it to 4-1 on serve, but Oklahoma State used two deuce-points to keep sandwiched around a break to tie it. The Longhorns also held at deuce to regain the lead at 5-4 until they could secure a final break three games later to win it at 7-5.

Texas (16-9) will next face 2 seed No. 4 Baylor on Saturday at 3 pm CT in the semifinals.

# 12 Texas 4, # 54 Oklahoma State 0

Singles – Order of Finish (3,2,5)
1. # 60 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) vs. # 112 Tyler Zink (OSU) 7-6 (6), 3-3, unf.
2. # 41 Pierre-Yves Bailly (UT) def. Alex Garcia (OSU) 6-1, 6-3
3. # 95 Richard Ciamarra (UT) def. Maxim Verboven (OSU) 6-0, 6-1
4. Siem Woldeab (UT) vs. Francisco Pini (OSU) 7-5, 2-3, unf.
5. # 114 Chih Chi Huang (UT) def. Leighton Allen (OSU) 6-4, 6-3
6. Cleeve Harper (UT) vs. Joseph Chen (OSU) 6-3, 4-4, unf.

Doubles – Order of Finish (2,1,3)
1. # 45 Sebastian Nothhaft / Tyler Zink (OSU) def. # 3 Richard Ciamarra/Cleeve Harper (UT) 7-5
2. # 17 Eliot Spizzirri/Siem Woldeab (UT) def. # 85 Alex Garcia / Maxim Verboven (OSU) 6-4
3. Chih Chi Huang/Eshan Talluri (UT) def. Leighton Allen/ Francisco Pini (OSU) 7-5

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