No. 3 Men's Tennis powers past No. 2 Pepperdine
AUSTIN, Texas -- Fueled by a spirited victory in doubles play, No. 3 Texas (17-2) claimed four of six singles matches on its way to a 5-2 win over No. 2 Pepperdine (26-2) Friday evening before a raucous crowd at UT's Penick-Allison Tennis Center. Texas snaps Pepperdine's 13-match winning streak after seeing its own 14-match winning streak come to an end Wednesday at Rice.
Texas opened the match by taking the doubles point, marking only the second time the Waves had surrendered the point all season. Pedro Rico and Ivor Lovrak scored an 8-5 win at No. 2 over UT's Roger Gubser (Laredo, Texas) and Hubert Chodkiewicz (Corpus Christi, Texas), but Texas senior Callum Beale (Adelaide, Australia) and freshman Miguel Reyes Varela (Cuernavaca, Mexico) evened the doubles session by upsetting the nation's top-ranked doubles tandem of Scott Doerner and Andre Begemann, 8-5.
Trailing 7-5 at the third position, UT sophomore Travis Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan.) and freshman Michael Venus (Orlando, Fla.) managed to hold serve to pull within 7-6 before saving two match points and breaking Omar Altmann and Richard Johnson in the next game to even the tally at seven games apiece. Venus served out the next game to give UT an 8-7 lead, but the Waves held serve in the next game to force a tiebreaker. At seven points apiece, Helgeson swatted a cross-court backhand through the opposite doubles alley to give UT an 8-7 lead. An errant Pepperdine return off of a well-placed Venus serve gave Texas the crucial doubles point.
Texas utilized the momentum created from the doubles victory to put away the Waves. Venus and Reyes Varela needed less than an hour each to dispatch their opponents. Venus put Texas up 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-3 win at the sixth slot over Pepperdine's Altmann, and Reyes Varela put away Johnson by a 6-1, 6-1 count at the fifth position.
The seventh-ranked Helgeson blanked the sixth-ranked Doerner in the first set only to see Doerner rally for a 6-1 second-set win. Helgeson adjusted in the final set and returned to his first-set form, posting a 6-1 third-set win to clinch the match for the Longhorns. After Pepperdine recorded a pair of victories at the second and fourth positions, UT's Beale put the finishing touches on the Longhorns' victory by defeating Pepperdine's Ivor Lovrak, 7-6, 6-7, 1-0 (10-2), handing the former Baylor Bear his first dual-match loss of the season.
"We fought hard to get this victory after the tough loss on Wednesday at Rice," said UT coach Michael Center. "This team showed a lot of character and heart in getting this done tonight."
Center was especially pleased by the support of the vocal crowd of nearly 900 fans at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
"Our crowd was awesome tonight! The fans created an unbelievable environment in which to play a tennis match. They really lifted our spirits."
Friday's win over Pepperdine marked the second time this season a second-ranked team came to Austin and left on a losing note. Texas dealt then-No. 2 Illinois a 4-3 defeat last month at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
The Longhorns return to Big 12 Conference play on Sunday, April 16 when they take on No. 42 Texas Tech. First serve is set for 1 p.m. CDT in Lubbock.
No. 3 Texas 5, No. 2 Pepperdine 2
Singles - Order of Finish: 6, 5, 1, 2, 4, 3