No. 12 Men’s Tennis falls to No. 5 Michigan, 4-2, in NCAA Round of 16

Ann Arbor, Mich. – No. 12 Texas Men’s Tennis came up just short against No. 5 Michigan, 4-2, in NCAA Tournament Round of 16 at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday. The Longhorns complete the season with an 18-11 overall record, their eighth-straight full year with at least 18 wins and to reach the Sweet 16.

The match came down to the wire on several courts with Michigan taking all four tiebreakers that occurred throughout the contest. The first of those delivered the doubles point to the Wolverines, who then won singles matches at Nos. 2, 5 and 3, while Texas earned wins from senior No. 92 Richard Cimarra at No. 4, and sophomore Cleeve Harper at No. 6.

After Michigan secured the doubles point, Ciamarra was first off the court in singles with an efficient 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 70 Jacob Bickersteth to even the overall match at 1-1. Ciamarra sprinted out of the gates winning eight of the first nine games with only one of those going to deuce at 4-0 in the first set, while Bickersteth picked up his lone game at 5-1. The run situated Ciamarra up with a 2-0 lead in the second, and the rest of the match stayed on serve to his victory with only one deuce point that went to Bickersteth to get within 4-3.

The Wolverines then regained the lead, as sophomore No. 26 Micah Braswell returned to the lineup for the first time since April 16 and just the third time since April 3 as he recovered from injury. Braswell dropped his match to No. 88 Patrick Maloney, 6-3, 6-3 with Maloney pushing out to early leads in both sets of 5-1 and 4-1 before Braswell made late pushes in each.

However, not much later, Harper knotted things up again at 2-2 with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Nick Beaty. After Harper opened on serve, he picked up the first break of the match for a 3-1 lead that he consolidated to 4-1 with a hold. Beaty broke the three-game streak by Harper with a deuce-point hold that started a 3-0 string of his own to even it. The following game also went to deuce, but Harper held to regain the lead and then broke for the set. In the second, Harper began with a hold and a deuce-point break, while Beaty followed with a break and a deuce-point hold, but from there it was all Harper, who went on a 4-0 run to the finish.

The next match off the court was at No. 5 where the tiebreakers again came into play as sophomore Siem Woldeab was edged by No. 77 Nino Ehrenschneider, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to give Michigan the lead again. The entire first set stayed on serve to the breaker with each player winning a deuce point, at 3-2 for Ehrenschneider and at 6-6 for Woldeab. In the breaker, Ehrenschneider pushed out to a 3-0 lead, and although Woldeab rallied to tie it at 4-4, Ehrenschneider took two-straight points and three of the next four to win. The second set, however, was more back and forth, as Woldeab started on serve and won the first two games, while Ehrenschneider responded with the next four, capped with a deuce-point hold. The next three games were also on serve to 5-4 for Ehrenschneider, but Woldeab regained the break with a deuce-point win for 5-5 and took the lead on serve. Ehrenschneider then held to send it to a second breaker where Woldeab took a 2-0 lead on a mini-break. Ehrenschneider came back with three-straight points for his lead, but after Woldeab got two more to go back up 4-3, Ehrenschneider went on a 4-0 run to the final and a 3-2 overall lead for Michigan.

That left two extremely close matches on the court at Nos. 1 and 3 that were in their third sets where sophomore No. 69 Eliot Spizzirri was facing No. 27 Ondrej Styler, and freshman No. 27 34 Pierre-Yves Bailly was squaring off with No. 63 Andrew Fenty. With Bailly up a break (3-1) and Spizzirri down a break (3-4) in those third sets, the weather became a factor with play halted due to a lightning warning. After an hour-long delay that later involved rain, play resumed indoors with both matches reversing course.

Spizzirri had used a 5-0 run to gather a quick first set over Styler at 6-1, but the second set went the distance. It stayed on serve the whole way with only three deuce games, including wins for Styler at 1-0 and 5-4, while Spizzirri used his to even it at 3-3. Once again, a tiebreaker came into play with Styler posting a 4-1 lead that Spizzirri could not quite recover from, twice getting within one point, including the second time at 5-4, but Styler collected the last two points to send it to the third. There, each player held his opening serve starting with Spizzirri, but Styler broke and held for a 3-1 lead. After Spizzirri also held, the next four games all went to deuce, but also stayed on serve until Spizzirri was able to get the break back at 5-5 and hold for a 6-5 lead. Styler held, as well, for another tiebreaker, and that was tied at 3-3 when play stopped with Michigan’s clinch at No. 3.

In that match, Fenty had taken the opening set, 6-3, on the strength of a 4-0 run that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead, beginning with a deuce point break for 2-2. Bailly got one game back on serve on another deuce, but Fenty then served out the set. The second stayed on serve almost the whole way with Bailly serving first and later winning a deuce point at 4-3. His next deuce victory would be the break he needed to take the set at 6-4 and head to a third. Once again starting on serve, Bailly had just used back-to-back deuce-point wins for a 3-1 lead when the lightning forced the match inside, and Bailly extended his lead to 4-1. However, Fenty then collected himself and put together a 5-0 run, including two deuce-point wins at 3-4 and 5-4, to clinch the overall match for the Wolverines.

Earlier in doubles, the match opened in thrilling fashion, coming down to a tiebreaker in the deciding match at No. 3 after Texas rallied from 4-1 deficits at both No. 1 and No. 3. After the No. 4 pair of Ciamarra and Harper fell to Beaty and Maloney, 6-1, at No. 2, the No. 8 duo of Spizzirri and Woldeab completed their comeback over the No. 24 pair of Ehrenschneider and Fenty. The Wolverines held their opening serve in that match, while the Longhorns rallied from a 15-40 deficit to do the same. Michigan then went on a 3-0 run with the last two of those both going to deuce points. However, Spizzirri and Woldeab set out on a 5-0 run of their own that started with a deuce-point hold after being down 15-40.

That shifted the attention to No. 3 where junior Chih Chi Huang and sophomore Eshan Taluri had gotten down 4-1 to Styler and Bickersteth on a break at 3-1. After the next three games stayed on serve capped by a deuce-point win for Texas to trail 5-3, the Longhorns got the break they needed to get back on serve at 5-4 before evening it at 5-5 with a hold. It appeared as if they might win their fourth-straight game, taking a 15-40 lead in the next one, but Michigan rallied to hold at deuce, and Texas followed with a hold for the tiebreaker. The Wolverines registered the first two points there and four of the first five, and although the Longhorns twice pulled back within one at 4-3 and 6-5, Michigan held serve on the final point for the win.

With the team season concluded, several Longhorns will head to Champaign, Ill., for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships from May 23-28. Those include Braswell and Bailly with singles at-large bids, along with the doubles pairs of Ciamarra and Harper as the 4 seed, and Spizzirri and Woldeab as a 5-8 seed. Spizzirri, whose ranking has been affected by not playing in the fall and being injured throughout the spring, also has the possibility of a receiving a singles bid after being selected as No. 10 on the alternates list.

#5 Michigan 4, #12 Texas 2

Singles – Order of Finish (4,2,6,5,3)
1. #27 Ondrej Styler (UM) vs. #69 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-6 (3-3), unf.
2. #88 Patrick Maloney (UM) def. #26 Micah Braswell (UT) 6-3, 6-3
3. #63 Andrew Fenty (UM) def. #34 Pierre-Yves Bailly (UT) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
4. #92 Richard Cimarra (UT) def. #70 Jacob Bickersteth (UM) 6-1, 6-4
5. #77 Nino Ehrenschneider (UM) def. Siem Woldeab (UT) 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4)
6. Cleeve Harper (UT) def. Nick Beaty (UM) 6-4, 6-2

Doubles – Order of Finish (2,1,3)
1. #8 Eliot Spizzirri/Siem Woldeab (UT) def. #24 Nino Ehrenschneider/Andrew Fenty (UM) 6-4
2. Nick Beaty/Patrick Maloney (UM) def. #4 Richard Cimarra/Cleeve Harper (UT) 6-1
3. Ondrej Styler/Jacob Bickersteth (UM) def. Chih Chi Huang/Eshan Taluri (UT) 7-6 (5)

Leave a Comment