Longhorn women gear up for ITA Kickoff Weekend


Head coach Howard Joffe rallies his 17th-seeded Longhorns to face Columbia on Saturday at the annual ITA Kickoff Weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The team looks to finish off the weekend with another battle on Sunday against the winner of Saturday’s matchup between No. 2 North Carolina and Oregon.

The stakes are high for the Longhorns as they need to pick up wins on both days this weekend in order to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 10. Their chances rely on Italian freshman Bianca Turati, who was recently named the Big 12 Women’s Tennis Player of the Week.

Turati aims to add to her 7–0 record and build off her latest victory in mid-January against Stanford’s 67th-ranked freshman Emma Higuchi at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic, in which she was selected as a co-champion of the women’s singles draw.

Turati joins her sister Anna and other fellow freshman teammates Petra Granic and Madison Cleff to compete alongside seasoned veterans senior Neda Koprcina and sophomore Katie Poluta.

Koprcina, who earned All-Big 12 honors last season, brought home a 4–2 upset victory for the burnt orange against No. 9 Duke during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Championships. She looks to keep her racquet hot coming into 2017 and has the numbers to prove it — she has jumped to the 55th-seed in the latest ITA singles rankings after being ranked No. 82 during the fall season.

Poluta, a South African native, found her place on the 40 Acres after tallying a 12–8 dual-match record as a freshman last season. She joined forces with Turati to knock off Arizona in a doubles event during the National Collegiate Tennis Classic.

The first serve for Texas in Chapel Hill is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.