Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 12, 2022 flipbook.
In just her second season at Texas, Peyton Stearns has progressed from a rookie freshman into an accomplished and seasoned pro on the Forty Acres. The biggest change in the distinguished sophomore’s game is a growing confidence, and the results speak for themselves.
Stearns was announced as the Big 12 Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week for two consecutive weeks in March, per the league offices’ releases on the 22nd and 29th. Marking her third accolade of her collegiate career, Stearns first racked up the award last February during her freshman season.
After capturing the 2021 NCAA Championship title, Stearns spent this past summer performing in top-tier events such as the WTA Tour and the US Open, and even won her first professional title at the ITF W25K.
“I just feel like I’m bringing myself to each match more than ever, both on and off the court,” Stearns said. “It’s definitely paid off.”
When the Longhorns swept West Virginia on March 18, Stearns’ performance was undeniably distinguished. She dominated in a 6–2 win with freshman Allura Zamarripa in doubles play over Momoka Nagato and Kendall Kovick and was unwavering in singles where she emerged victorious with a 3–6, 6–1, 6–3 win against Kovick.
Another strong showing from Stearns against Iowa State on March 20 led the Longhorns to a 6-1 victory. She again paired with Zamarripa to clinch a 6–2 win in doubles against No. 55 Sofia Cabezas and Miska Kadleckova, then claimed a 6–2, 6–4 in singles play against No. 67 Thasaporn Naklo shortly after.
After a weekend marked by resilience and domination against nationally ranked players in both singles and doubles, Stearns played her part to bring the Longhorns two back-to-back wins. A performance worthy of her consecutive Player of the Week honors.
“I mostly thought about myself more than my opponent,” Stearns said. “I went out there focusing on my game, moving, focusing on my forehand, looking to dictate the point, and the rest just comes naturally.”
Her execution didn’t stop there. Her successful two weeks of matchplay gave her the momentum she needed to face off against the next week’s worth of opponents.
On March 25, Stearns and the Texas women’s tennis team claimed a notable 4-1 win in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. She and her confidant Zamarippa posted a 6-2 victory against No.14 Lisa Marie Rioux and Ayumi Miyamoto, and then stood out on the singles end, bringing home a 6–4, 0–6, 6–3 victory against No. 42 Lisa Marie Rioux.
Battling against No. 3 Oklahoma on Sunday, March 27, Peyton Stearns paired with Zamarripa in doubles to claim a 7-5 victory over No. 4 Carmey Corley and Ivana Corley, then posted a 6-4, 6-3 victory in singles over No. 19 Layne Sleeth. Despite Texas falling short to Oklahoma, Stearns didn’t waver in her fierce competition and still managed to win on her own terms.
After recent wins over Kansas and Kansas State to conclude the regular season play, Stearns and the Longhorns will look to bring home a national title.
“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming weeks,” Stearns said. “It’s just another opportunity to get another match in, take it one day at a time and who knows? We’ll just keep going from there. “