By Steve Lansdale
AUSTIN, Texas — For the second time in under a week, a Texas men’s tennis star announced he will forego his final year of eligibility. Five days after Christian Sigsgaard declared his intention to call it a career and move on, Yuya Ito made the same call.
Ito could have played another season at UT after the NCAA granted an extra season of eligibility to student-athletes competing in spring sports. Instead, he called it a career with 111 singles victories, the fifth-highest total in program history.
“Simply being on the team gave me so much joy on and off the court, so it was definitely one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my life,” Ito said in a statement released through the Texas athletic department. “The resources that we were given as student-athletes at Texas were just incredible, and it was nothing close to what I imagined before coming. I was surrounded by great teammates throughout my four years, so I'd like to thank everyone for making my time at Texas so incredible. I would also like to thank Coach (Bruce) Berque, along with all of the other coaches and staff who taught me a lot during my time. I would not be the same player, nor the same person, without their support.”
“Yuya will forever be one of our program’s all-time greats,” Berque said. “He’s known for his dramatic wins on big stages, most notably clinching our 2019 NCAA championship, and then opening the 2020 season by securing our road win over No. 1 Florida. On these and many other occasions, he set the standard for competitive toughness and gave our young players a clear picture of what ‘Texas Fight’ looks like. Yuya’s legacy will live on with our young team, and his impact on our program will be felt for years to come.”
Ito was 111-34 (.766) in singles and 79-36 (.687) in doubles, including dual match records of 66-18 (.786) in singles and 48-27 (.640) in doubles. He was on pace to set the UT record for career singles victories had the 2020 season not been cut short. His overall .766 career singles winning percentage is the best among the 22 players who have won 90 or more matches in their careers.
Ito clinched the program’s first national championship with a win over defending NCAA singles champion Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and to the NCAA Championships All-Tournament Team.
Ito departs Texas after becoming just the third UT player to receive All-America honors three times (in 2017, 2019 and 2020) since separate singles and doubles honors began to be recognized in 1979, along with Søren Hess-Olesen (2013-15) and Dimitar Kutrovsky (2008-10). He finished in the top 10 of the ITA final singles rankings in both of the last two years at No. 8 in 2019 and No. 2 in 2020. He also teamed with Sigsgaard to rank as high as No. 4 in doubles in 2020. He twice reached the Round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championship in 2017 and 2019 and became just the third men's player since 1979 to win the singles titles of the ITA All-American and ITA Fall Nationals in the same season.
Ito has represented his home country of Japan in both the World University Games and the Asian Games.