Third-seeded Longhorns will take on Texas Tech in the Big 12 Championship semifinals for a second consecutive year.
NORMAN, Okla. – Third-seeded Texas (15-10) collected singles wins from freshmen Lana Groenvynck and Breaunna Addison, sophomore Noel Scott and junior Elizabeth Begley to cap a 4-1 victory over sixth-seeded host Oklahoma (13-9) Friday in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship.
Texas will take on second-seeded Texas Tech in the Big 12 Championship semifinals for a second consecutive season. The Lady Raiders shared the Big 12 regular season crown with top-seeded Baylor and edged the Longhorns by a 4-3 count on April 6 in Austin. Texas handed Texas Tech a 4-1 defeat at the Big 12 Championship semifinals a year ago. First serve for Texas-Texas Tech is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
The threat of inclement weather forced tournament officials to start all men’s and women’s matches Friday with the six singles matches instead of the three doubles contests. At sixth singles, UT’s Groenvynck took the first set off of OU’s Emma Devine, 6-1. The Belgian freshman took the second set by the same score to give the Horns a 1-0 lead.
At second singles, UT’s Addison cruised through the first set against Oklahoma’s Whitney Ritchie and scored a 6-2 win. Ritchie fought back in the second set and took a 5-3 lead, but Addison broke Ritchie and held serve to even the second set at five. Addison broke Ritchie once more and served out the match to claim a 6-2, 7-5 win and stake Texas to a 2-0 lead.
Oklahoma’s Abbi Melrose posted a 7-5, 6-1 win over UT sophomore Lina Padegimaite at fifth singles, but that proved to be as close as the Sooners would get. At fourth singles, UT’s Scott engaged in a tight battle with Oklahoma’s Whitney Wofford.
Scott took the first set, 6-4 and trailed 4-2 in the second before breaking Wofford and holding serve to even the set at four. Scott broke for a 6-5 lead but Wofford followed suit to force a tiebreaker. Scott took a 3-0 lead and ultimately won the tiebreaker by a 7-3 count to give the Horns their third point.
The remaining matches at the third and first singles slots featured back-and-forth battles and a massive third-set turnaround that decided the match. At third singles, Texas’ Begley dropped the first set to OU’s Mia Lancaster before claiming the second set, 6-2. At first singles, UT’s 39th-ranked Ellis took the first set off of OU’s 59th-ranked Hermon Brhane, 6-4 before dropping the second set in a tiebreaker.
The Sooners took commanding 4-0 leads in both final sets, but Begley commenced a rally that ultimately dealt OU its final blow. Begley trailed 5-1 but methodically worked her way back into the match. The Houston native held serve and broke Lancaster to pull within 5-3. She held and broke Lancaster again to even the final set at five games all.
Brhane, who suffered from apparent leg cramps in the third set, took a 5-1 lead on Ellis at No. 1, but UT’s Begley put her match away before Brhane could muster a win. Begley held serve for a 6-5 lead and broke the struggling Lancaster to win the set, 7-5 and close out the 4-1 win for the Longhorns. The Ellis-Brhane match was called given that Texas had clinched the team victory.
Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals
Headington Family Tennis Center – Norman, Okla.
(3) Texas 4, (6) Oklahoma 1
Singles – Order of Finish: 6, 2, 5, 4, 3
1 No. 39 Aeriel Ellis (UT) vs. No. 59 Hermon Brhane (OU) – 6-4, 6-7 (1), 1-5, susp.
2 No. 33 Breaunna Addison (UT) def. Whitney Ritchie (OU) – 6-2, 7-5
3 Elizabeth Begley (UT) def. Mia Lancaster (OU) – 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
4 Noel Scott (UT) def. Whitney Wofford (OU) – 6-4, 7-6 (3)
5 Abbi Melrose (OU) def. Lina Padegimaite (UT) – 7-5, 6-1
6 Lana Groenvynck (UT) def. Emma Devine (OU) – 6-1, 6-1
Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain
I think Oklahoma played a great match today. They really came out firing and played some great tennis. Obviously at 1, (OU’s Hermon) Brhane was cramping the whole way in the third and just taking care of business, knowing she had no wasted energy out there. She played some unbelievable tennis. She got a little bit unlucky that we won our match before she did. I thought we fought really hard. We didn’t play our best tennis, but we fought really hard and it’s good to get a win.
We will need more of the same fighting spirit tomorrow because I think that’s where we’re at our best. I think at a couple of spots I expect to see us play a little bit better, for sure.
Oklahoma head coach David Mullins
It was a really good effort. I’m really proud of the way we fought. To see the growth since the last time we played them — it’s night and day the difference of this team and to have a shot there to force it into doubles. I’m disappointed we couldn’t start with doubles just because I feel like that was one point we were favored in today. We didn’t quite get there, but with the improvements we’ve shown, I’m really happy and really proud. We’ve seen what this team is capable of and the growth they’ve shown these last few months leading into NCAA’s and leading into next year, it shows a lot of promise.