Leonardo Telles didn’t play his best tennis Friday in No. 8 Texas’ 4-1 loss to No. 41 Stanford in Palo Alto, California.
But the undaunted sophomore out of Sao Paulo, Brazil, shook off the bad outing, knowing he’d have to step it up the following day against No. 6 California in Berkeley.
Friday’s match started with Telles and senior George Goldhoff coming up short in a pivotal doubles match, giving Stanford a 1-0 lead.
The Longhorns tried to regain their footing in singles play as freshman Yuya Ito defeated Stanford’s Jack Barber 6-3, 6-4, but Stanford took over after that. The Cardinal rallied off two consecutive wins to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
Texas looked to Telles for a response, but he couldn’t overcome the strong play of Stanford’s David Wilczynski and lost 6-4, 6-3.
The 4-1 upset left the Longhorns down but not out. Texas played the role of the aggressor at the start of its match against California. Every bounce of the ball seemed to go in the Longhorns’ favor as they won the first two matches and claimed a 1-0 lead.
“We played tremendous doubles, some of the best I've seen this year,” head coach Michael Center said. “I was really pleased with what I saw.”
Both teams exchanged jabs in singles play, splitting the first four matches. California’s Bjorn Hoffmann took down Ito 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 to tie the match at 3-3. The Longhorns looked to Telles once again.
Telles fought off match point three times in the second set against J.T. Nishimura, ultimately forcing a final set that would decide the winner. Telles didn’t look back after that, dominating the third set to take a 6-2 lead.
Nishimura’s return sailed out of bounds after a long rally, giving Telles a 6-7, 7-5, 6-2 win and securing the Longhorns’ 4-3 win over the Golden Bears. Telles’ teammates exploded from the sideline, rushing over to congratulate him.
“Leonardo played a great third set to finish the match,” Center said. “We were battling all the way through with them, so it was a really great team effort this afternoon.”
The battle-tested Longhorns leave California with a win and a loss. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, however, as they have a date with No. 1 Ohio State in Austin on March 15.
“We're excited to get this win,” Center said. “But now we'll come home and get ready for Ohio State on Wednesday.”