Longhorns defeat No. 16 Michigan
Ellis wins fourth match against top-20 opponent to lead Texas
AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 9 Texas (7-3) waited out a rain delay spanning more than 90 minutes on Sunday and produced four singles wins to emerge with a 4-2 victory against No. 16 Michigan (7-4) at UT’s Penick-Allison Tennis Center. The doubles session was not contested due to the rain delay and the Wolverines’ travel plans. The win is the sixth for the Longhorns against an ITA top-25 opponent this season, and only two of those wins have come on the Horns’ home courts.
Cierra Gaytan-Leach put the Horns on the board first, as she defeated the Wolverines’ 75th-ranked Sam Critser by a 6-3, 6-1 count at fifth singles to record her fourth consecutive victory. Gaytan-Leach needed only 60 minutes to finish off the win.
“I went out to Cierra’s court to see how she was doing, and she was already done,” UT head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “Cierra has been playing really well. Her court presence is fantastic. She is using her court so well now, and we’re seeing her hit a whole different dimension out there.”
Krista Damico pushed the Texas lead to 2-0 at second singles, where she posted a 7-5, 6-3 win against Michigan’s 57th-ranked Brooke Bolender.
“Krista woke up with a bad cold yesterday, and we had to hit indoors against mats on Friday,” Fendick-McCain said. “So, essentially, she had little or no practice in the last two days prior to this match. It was great to see how she responded.”
Michigan evened the match with wins at the fourth and third singles positions, respectively, but Texas claimed the remaining two matches to preserve the 4-2 win. Texas’ 30th-ranked Aeriel Ellis dropped the first set at No. 1 singles to Michigan’s 10th-ranked Emina Bektas, but Ellis rallied to take the next two sets, 7-5, 6-3 to snap Bektas’ 11-match winning streak and give Texas a 3-2 lead. It marked Ellis’ fourth win against an ITA top-20 opponent in dual-match play this season.
“Aeriel is just an amazing player, and she is just so tough,” Fendick-McCain said. “I think once she got over the shock factor of [Emina] Bektas’ huge serve and great touch….that’s when she decided she was going to hang in there and fight to the end. It went her way. It was just a matter of her getting to that point.”
UT’s Elizabeth Begley dropped her first set to Michigan’s Michelle Sulahian at sixth singles, 6-1 before taking the next set, 6-4. Begley held a 5-2 third-set lead before Sulahian broke Begley and held serve to close the deficit to 5-4. However, Begley won the following game on her serve to finish off the victory, 6-4 and close out the win for the Longhorns.
“Elizabeth’s opponent was fighting hard and coming up with some wicked backhand slices,” Fendick-McCain said. “But, Elizabeth had nerves of steel out there. She just hung in there and got over the hump.”