16 May

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No. 18 Texas Men’s Tennis knocks off No. 12 Texas A&M in NCAA Second Round

No. 18 Texas Men’s Tennis knocks off No. 12 Texas A&M in NCAA Second Round

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — In a tennis match that spanned two days due to weather delays, the No. 18 University of Texas Men's Tennis team earned a thrilling 4-3 victory in the NCAA Second Round against host No. 12 Texas A&M (27-10) on Sunday afternoon at the Mitchell Tennis Center. Junior George Goldhoff provided the clinching point in dramatic fashion, earning a 7-5 win in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 1 singles.

Texas (19-11) advances to face No. 5 seed Ohio State in the NCAA Round of 16. The UT-Ohio State match is scheduled for a 10 a.m. CT start on Friday, May 20 in Tulsa, Okla.

This marks the 10th appearance in the NCAA Round of 16 in the 16-year tenure of UT head coach Michael Center. Under Center's leadership, the Longhorns previously advanced to the NCAA finals in 2008, the semifinals in 2006 and 2009, the quarterfinals in 2014 and the Round of 16 in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2015.

The Texas-Texas A&M match began on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. The two teams completed doubles action, and several of the first sets in singles were completed. However, play was halted for the day at 3:50 p.m. CT due to lightning and rain. The Longhorns and Aggies resumed play on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.

In doubles action on Saturday, A&M's third doubles team of Max Lunkin and Arthur Rinderknech recorded a 6-4 win against John Mee and Harrison Scott, before the Longhorns evened the count with a 6-4 victory at No. 2 doubles fromAdrian Ortiz and Julian Zlobinsky against Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant. The Aggies clinched the doubles point with a 7-3 win in a tiebreak at No. 1 doubles from 89th-ranked Aleksandre Bakshi and Jackson Withrow against Goldhoff and Michael Riechmann.

When singles play resumed on Sunday, the Longhorns quickly gained a 2-1 lead after a pair of straight-set wins. Riechmann finished off a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 5 against Withrow, while Ortiz had an impressive 7-5, 6-1 victory at No. 2 against 52nd-ranked Vinsant.

Each of the remaining four singles matches progressed to third sets. Scott recorded a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win against Jordi Arconada at No. 3 to give the Longhorns a 3-1 advantage. The Aggies answered with back-to-back wins, as Adams rallied to defeat UT's Rodrigo Banzer 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 4, and Lunkin topped Zlobinsky 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 at No. 6 to set the stage for the dramatic finish at No. 1.

Goldhoff began Sunday's play by finishing off a 6-3 win in the opening set, but the 18th-ranked Rinderknech answered with a 6-1 victory in the second set. Rinderknech then jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the final set, before Goldhoff ran off five unanswered games to build a 5-3 lead. Rinderknech held serve to pull within 5-4 and broke Goldhoff to even the set at 5-5. Both players then held serve to force the third-set tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, Goldhoff won the opening point but saw Rinderknech run off four straight points to grab a 4-1 lead. Goldhoff answered back to win five straight points and built a 6-4 advantage. After the Texas junior hit a forehand into the net to make it 6-5, Goldhoff finished out the match with an emphatic backhand winner down the line.

Texas Post-Match Quotes

Head Coach Michael Center

On today's win

We beat a very good Texas A&M team who had an outstanding season on its home courts today. I'm so proud of how our guys stuck together and fought so hard. All we have talked about throughout this season has been 'Let's be a great team.' We repeated that phrase again in our preparation for today's match, and we really kept our focus on competing hard and being resilient. We didn't focus on winning certain matches and having to get results from certain people in our lineup. We kept our mindset on competing during every point, and we're obviously very excited for this victory.

On George Goldhoff's play to seal the victory

You have to give George a ton of credit for hanging in there when there were so many momentum swings in his match. He actually got down 3-0 to start the third set and battled back to win five straight to go up 5-3. He served for the match at 5-4 and was up 30-love, and he also had a match point in that game. Even when it was 5-5 and he was receiving serve, he was in control of some points. All of a sudden he's down 6-5, and I was so proud of the way he came back and served out the next game to force the tiebreak. Then you go to the tiebreak and he gets down 4-1 and it doesn't look good. But again, George fights back to go up 6-4. He played a little tentative on the next point, but to see him come back and hit the winner at 6-5 was a great moment.

On the play of the entire lineup today

We first have to give credit to Michael Riechmann and his win (at 5 singles) that got us off to a great start in singles. He was able to get a victory against probably the best player in the A&M lineup at his position and a sixth-year senior (Jackson Withrow) who held a 17-3 record entering the match. To see that score go up early today gave us a much-needed spark. Adrian Ortiz (at 2 singles) and Harrison Scott (at 3 singles) also gave us huge wins, and both Rodrigo (Banzer) and Julian (Zlobinsky) really fought hard in their three-set matches. We did not give A&M anything easy. I also want to give a shout-out to the Texas women's tennis team and their win at Duke on Saturday. We definitely discussed their win in getting ready for today and how we needed to join them in Tulsa, so they provided our group with some great inspiration.

On watching the team celebrate on the court after the win

That celebration is the culmination of an entire season of hard work by our players and staff. We lost five guys from our lineup after last year, and this young team has grown up so much over the course of the season. We've learned a lot from some of the close losses that we had, and we've grown from our wins as well. To know where we started this year and to see the emotion of our players here today after this win, it's a great feeling.

Junior George Goldhoff

On the final points of the tiebreaker

That might have been the craziest moment of my life. I was down 4-1 and my opponent (Rinderknech) had a pretty big serve, so there was only so much I could do. I just had to fight for every point. That's all you can do. I took it one point at a time and just tried to execute the best I could.  He double-faulted at four-all, and it all happened really fast after that. I was up 5-4 and then 6-4, and it hit me all at once that the next point was for the entire match. On that point, I had a pretty easy forehand at mid court but I netted it. On the last point, he got his serve in, and I got the return back. I mishit a ball and hit it a little deep, but he hit it back short. I had a backhand and I put it away. It was just surreal.

On reaching the Round of 16

Everybody was counting us out. We had lost five of six (singles) starters and people didn't think we were even going to make the NCAAs. This group of guys took that personally. We worked really hard to come back and prove everyone wrong.  I just can't put it into words what this group of guys has done.  The team stepped up, and we weren't going to rebuild. We wanted to get back to where we were last year. We're keeping it one match at a time, but it's huge to beat one of your biggest rivals on their courts. It's an incredible feeling. I can't put it into words how much this means to me.

NCAA Men's Tennis Championships Second Round (Round of 32)

No. 18 Texas 4, No. 12 Texas A&M 3

Doubles – Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1

1 #89 Aleksandre Bakshi/Jackson Withrow (A&M) def. George Goldhoff/Michael Riechmann (UT), 7-6 (7-3)

2 Adrian Ortiz/Julian Zlobinsky (UT) def. Harrison Adams/Shane Vinsant (A&M), 6-4

3 Max Lunkin/Arthur Rinderknech (A&M) def. John Mee/Harrison Scott (UT), 6-4

Singles – Order of Finish: 5, 2, 3, 4, 6, 1

1 #68 George Goldhoff (UT) def. #18 Arthur Rinderknech (A&M), 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5)

2 Adrian Ortiz (UT) def. #52 Shane Vinsant (A&M), 7-5, 6-1

3 Harrison Scott (UT) def. Jordi Arconada (A&M), 6-3, 2-6, 6-2

4 Harrison Adams (A&M) def. Rodrigo Banzer (UT), 2-6, 6-4, 6-2

5 Michael Riechmann (UT) def. Jackson Withrow (A&M), 6-4, 6-4

6 Max Lunkin (A&M) def. Julian Zlobinsky (UT), 6-3, 2-6, 7-5

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.