TCU, Texas A&M make school history with NCAA tennis titles

TCU, Texas A&M make school history with NCAA tennis titles

It was an eventful finish in Stillwater, Oklahoma, as two Texas programs etched their names in the history books by winning their first NCAA team championships.

Even more special, the respective head coaches of both programs are alumni of the universities at which they now coach.

TCU (Power 6: 81.42) men’s head coach David Roditi, in his 14th season, at last reached the pinnacle of the sport following his team’s dramatic 4-3 win over rival Texas (82.34).

The teams had faced off three times this season, with Texas holding a 2-1 advantage, including a 4-0 win just a few weeks ago in the Big 12 tournament final on the very same courts at Oklahoma State. In that meeting, however, TCU standout freshman Sebastian Gorzny (UTR Rating 13.50) couldn’t play due to injury.

Gorzny’s return and impact in the NCAA championship match will be remembered forever by TCU fans, as he clinched the title with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 win at the No. 5 singles spot.

The match kicked off with the Horned Frogs winning the doubles point and earning a straight-set win at the No. 4 singles spot to take a 2-0 lead.

Texas answered back, though, with their own straight-set wins at the Nos. 3 and 6 positions to even the final. The final matches all went the distance, with Texas taking a 3-2 lead following Micah Braswell’s (UTR 14.11) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 comeback win at the No. 2 singles spot, which delivered him his 35th consecutive victory.

With their backs against the wall and needing to win both remaining matches, TCU stepped up and did just that. Jack Pinnington Jones (UTR 14.00) mounted a comeback to take down second-ranked Eliot Spizzirri (UTR 14.10) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 before Gorzny sealed the match.

“Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love via texts, calls, posts,” Roditi said. “I am so proud of our amazing players and staff. It is amazing to be able to share this with TCU, all our alumni, family, friends, fans, and staff. Go Frogs!”

NCAA Women’s Tennis Final: Texas A&M beats Georgia

Texas A&M (65.73) women’s head coach Mark Weaver, in his ninth season at the helm of the program, also led his alma mater to a national championship with the Aggies defeating Georgia (64.13) 4-1 in the final. 

Weaver has been a part of the coaching staff for 25 years, first as volunteer assistant coach and then as assistant coach/associate head coach, before becoming head coach in 2015.

Beating the Bulldogs in the final was especially sweet for Texas A&M since Georgia had won all three of their previous matchups this season. This time around, Texas A&M won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead before Georgia answered back with a straight-set win at the No. 4 singles spot from Anastasiia Lopata (UTR 10.71).

That would be the last point Georgia put on the board, though, as the Aggies responded with straight-set wins at the Nos. 5 and 1 positions to take a 3-1 lead.

Sophomore Nicole Khirin (UTR 11.15) then notched the most important point in program history, clinching the title with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win at the No. 3 spot after she had also clinched the victory in the semifinals against Tennessee.

A notable boost for the Aggies in the last few weeks of the season was the return of Carson Branstine (UTR 11.57), who has the highest UTR Rating of any female collegiate player.

After having her 2023 college season end early due to hip surgery, she turned pro but remained enrolled in classes at Texas A&M during the fall and spring while competing on the pro tour, which kept her eligible and able to return to the team last month.

She made a major impact on the lineup in the NCAA tournament by slotting in at the No. 2 singles spot, which slid each of her teammates down a position to give the team even deeper depth.

Branstine amassed a 5-1 singles record in her shortened season, and had Khirin been unable to close out her match in the championship, Branstine was ready to clinch as well, since she held a 5-0 lead in the third set of her contest.

“Last year my season was cut short,” Branstine told KBTX. “I wasn’t able to finish because of hip surgery. I felt like my job wasn’t finished here. I knew we had the talent. I said, 'You know what? I’m going back. I’ve got to finish the job.' And we did it."

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