Men's Tennis preview: Big 12 Championship
April 24, 2012
WHAT: No. 18 Texas (16-8, 2-3 Big 12) opens postseason play this weekend at the 2012 Big 12 Championship. The fourth-seeded Longhorns will take on fifth-seeded Texas A&M in Friday’s quarterfinals.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINALS
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
WHERE: George P. Mitchell Tennis Center – College Station, Texas
LIVE SCORING: Available at AggieAthletics.com
LAST MEETING VS. TEXAS A&M: Behind a come-from-behind effort from junior Ben Chen, Texas pulled out a 4-3 victory over Texas A&M on April 14 in Austin.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
FAMILIAR FOES ACROSS THE NET
Texas and Texas A&M have squared off three times this season at three different sites. The Aggies posted a 4-3 win on Feb. 10 at the Texas Cup in Houston. The Longhorns and Aggies squared off again just eight days later, as Texas notched a 4-1 win over Texas A&M in the consolation bracket at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship on Feb. 18 in Charlottesville, Va.
In the two teams’ most recent meeting, a conference match on April 14 in Austin, Ben Chen rallied from a 5-2 third-set deficit to defeat the Aggies’ Niall Angus and lift Texas to a 4-3 victory.
The Aggies are coached by former Texas All-American Steve Denton, who ranks third all-time at Texas in winning percentage (.794) and 20th in career singles wins (1976-79).
Notably, the father of the Lewis brothers, Walter Lewis, played football at The University of Alabama (1980-83) and was the starting quarterback in his final two seasons.
108 AND COUNTING
CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
In the last six seasons, Texas has played for the national title (2008), reached the NCAA semifinals twice more (2006, 2009), captured three Big 12 regular-season titles (2006, 2008, 2010) and won two Big 12 tournament titles (2006, 2010). In addition, eight players have collected 13 ITA All-America honors.
YOUTH IS SERVED
HESS-OLESEN HOLDING DOWN TOP SPOT
Hess-Olesen enjoyed a solid start to his collegiate career last fall, when he reached the finals at the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational and the Southwest Shootout. Hess-Olesen fell to teammate Daniel Whitehead in the finals of both events.
Hess-Olesen won his first three dual matches and notched a breakthrough win at No. 17 North Carolina (Feb. 5), where he knocked off the Tar Heels’ 30th-ranked Jose Hernandez to help the Horns to a 5-2 win in Chapel Hill. Hess-Olesen added a key victory in February at the ITA National Team Indoors, where he defeated Texas A&M’s 19th-ranked Alexis Klegou in straight sets to help Texas to a 4-1 win over the Aggies.
WHITEHEAD MAINTAINS CONSISTENCY
Whitehead registered one of his most impressive dual matches of the season in January against the Red Raiders when he overpowered Texas Tech’s 23rd-ranked Gonzalo Escobar by a 6-1, 6-4 count in the Horns’ 4-0 win over the Red Raiders. His 61 career singles wins rank him 39th on UT’s all-time career singles wins list.
SITARAM ENJOYS SOPHOMORE SURGE
One of his defeats in dual-match play came at the hands of the nation’s top-ranked player, Virginia’s Mitchell Frank, who needed a third-set match tiebreak to fend off Sitaram in February on the Cavaliers’ home courts.
Since then, Sitaram has won his 11 of his last 15 decisions. He posted a three-set win over Esben Hess-Olesen (identical twin brother of UT’s Soren Hess-Olesen) in the Horns’ 5-2 win on the Tar Heels’ home indoor courts. Sitaram notched two wins over Texas A&M’s 104th-ranked Junior Ore in a span of eight days.
Sitaram won in three sets on Feb. 10 at the Texas Cup and defeated Ore once more at the ITA National Team Indoors, where he won in straight sets to help Texas to victory. Sitaram added a key straight-set victory over Auburn’s Daniel Cochrane in February in the Horns’ 4-2 victory over the Tigers at the ITA National Team Indoors.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Holiner holds a 14-5 mark in dual-match play. The redshirt sophomore posted victories over Texas A&M’s Jackson Withrow in the Longhorns’ first two matches against the Aggies before adding another win on April 14 against the Aggies’ Jeremy Efferding. Camillone registered a 6-4, 6-3 win over North Carolina’s Oystein Steiro at No. 5 singles in Texas’ 5-2 road win over the Tar Heels, and Hilliard chipped in a three-set win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Fernando Llorens.
Lewis scored his first career dual-match victory in straight sets against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Andrew Maingot, while Swaysland, a January arrival from Australia, defeated the Islanders’ Nathan Robinson in straight sets.
CENTER WINS 400TH MATCH
The Manhattan, Kan., native was the 2007 USPTA National College Coach of the Year. He is a five-time ITA Regional Coach of the Year and an eight-time conference coach of the year.
THE 2011-12 LONGHORNS: Texas returns six letterwinners from the 2010-11 squad that reached the round of 32 at the NCAA Championships and the semifinals of the Big 12 Championships. Junior Daniel Whitehead totaled a 12-2 fall singles record and capped the fall by winning the Southwest Shootout, where he defeated teammate Soren Hess-Olesen in the finals.
Whitehead posted a key victory at No. 2 singles against North Carolina (Feb. 5), as he helped spark Texas’ 5-2 road victory over the 17th-ranked Tar Heels. Junior Ben Chen returns after posting a 6-5 fall singles record, and sophomore David Holiner tallied an 8-3 fall singles record.
Sophomore Sudanwa Sitaram registered a 9-6 fall singles record. At Virginia (Feb. 3), Sitaram took the Cavaliers’ top-ranked Mitchell Frank to a third set match tiebreak, where he fell by a 10-3 count. He returned to defeat North Carolina’s Esben Hess-Olesen, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (2) in the Horns’ victory in Chapel Hill.
Junior Chris Camillone notched a 6-5 fall singles record and posted a 6-4, 6-3 win over North Carolina’s Oystein Steiro in UT’s win over the Tar Heels. Texas also welcomes the return of junior Alex Hilliard, who won a pair of matches in January at the Key Biscayne Invitational.
Freshmen Soren Hess-Olesen posted a 10-4 fall singles record while reaching the singles finals at a pair of fall events, the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational and the Southwest Shootout. Hess-Olesen posted a 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-2 win over North Carolina’s 30th-ranked Jose Hernandez in Texas’ 5-2 win over the Tar Heels. Freshman Jacoby Lewis won four fall singles matches and won the consolation draw at the Southwest Shootout.
Newcomer Lloyd Glasspool posted a pair of singles victories in his collegiate debut in January at the Key Biscayne Invitational. The Englishman notched a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over North Carolina’s Joey Burkhardt at fourth singles before adding a victory against Texas A&M (Feb. 10). Texas also welcomes Australian freshman Joey Swaysland, who made his collegiate debut at Rice and picked up his first win at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.