Texas men blank Owls, 4-0

Longhorns sweep the Owls, qualify for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

AUSTIN – No. 5 Texas (5-0) secured the doubles point and picked up singles wins from freshman Sudanwa Sitaram, junior Jean Andersen and the clincher from sophomore Vasko Mladenov in a 4-0 win over Rice Sunday at UT’s Penick-Allison Tennis Center.

With two wins in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend matches in Austin, UT qualifies for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for a fifth consecutive year. The 2011 ITA National Team Indoor Championships are set for Feb. 18-21 in Seattle, Wash. The Longhorns advanced to the semifinals of the 2010 event in Charlottesville, Va., after posting wins over Stanford and defending two-time defending NCAA champion USC.

UT picked up its first win of the doubles session from senior Kellen Damico and redshirt freshman David Holiner at the second slot. Damico and Holiner held a 5-4 lead over Rice’s Oscar Podlewski and Harry Fowler and broke the Rice duo’s serve to assume a 6-4 lead. They went on to an 8-5 win before Andersen and senior Ed Corrie added an additional win at first doubles.

Leading 4-3 over Michael Nuesslein and Christian Saravia, the Texas tandem registered a service break and claimed the next three games to win the match, 8-3 and secure the doubles point for the Horns. The remaining doubles match was suspended.

UT’s Sitaram posted the first singles win for Texas at the sixth slot where he held on for a 6-4, 6-3 win over Rice’s Saravia. Texas’ Andersen won a first-set tiebreaker against Rice’s 121st-ranked Philip Seifert and surrendered nothing from there, as he claimed a 7-6 (5), 6-0 win to stake Texas to a 3-0 lead.

After taking the first set against Rice’s Sam Garforth-Bles at fourth singles, UT’s Mladenov yielded a service break early in set two before breaking back and assuming a 3-2 lead. He added one more service break and claimed the second set, 6-4 to clinch the team victory for the Longhorns. The remaining singles matches were suspended.

The Owls will be back on the road next weekend, with a swing through Louisiana to face Tulane on Friday and LSU on Sunday.

#5 Texas 4, Rice 0
Doubles – Order of Finish: 2, 1
1 Corrie/Andersen (UT) def. Nuesslein/Saravia (Rice) – 8-3
2 Damico/Holiner (UT) def. Podlewski/Fowler (Rice) – 8-5
3 Hilliard/Whitehead (UT) vs. Frank/Garforth-Bles (Rice) – 4-4, susp.

Singles – Order of Finish: 6, 3, 4
1 Ed Corrie (UT) vs. #44 Harry Fowler (Rice) – 1-6, 6-0, 2-4, susp.
2 Kellen Damico (UT) vs. Peter Frank (Rice) – 7-5, 4-3, susp.
3 Jean Andersen (UT) def. #121 Philip Seifert (Rice) – 7-6 (5), 6-0
4 Vasko Mladenov (UT) def. Sam Garforth-Bles (Rice) – 6-3, 6-4
5 Daniel Whitehead (UT) vs. Oscar Podlewski (Rice) -6-4, 2-6, susp.
6 Sudanwa Sitaram (UT) def. Christian Saravia (Rice) – 6-4, 6-3

POST-MATCH COMMENTS
Texas head coach Michael Center
On the win
“That was a really strong team effort today. Every time we had a moment where we were being pushed, we stepped up to the challenge. The doubles point was hanging in the balance, and we stepped up our game and got that point. We were able to get some first sets at five different spots in singles and got the second set at the first spot. But, this is what I’ve been looking for, a really good effort today against a really good team.”

On qualifying for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship
“It will be exciting to go and play against the best teams in the country. We like to get the opportunity to measure ourselves against everyone else, and I want to see what we can do. We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but we’re excited to go to Seattle. It’s always fun to be a part of that tournament.”

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