ORLANDO, Fla. — A team of destiny, perhaps.
It sure seems like it.
The University of Texas men's tennis team suffered a significant blow-back in March when their long-time head coach, Michael Center, who admitted to accepting a $100,000 bribe in a nationwide college admissions scheme, was placed on administrative leave and later dismissed.
But, Center's team faced this adversity with focus and determination. In fact, a few days after the drama involving Center, the Longhorns responded with a 4-1 win over then No. 1 nationally ranked Ohio State University.
In fact, the UT men's tennis team cruised to the program's most wins in a season since 1974.
The Longhorns finished 2019 as national champions after beating national tennis power Wake Forest University and did so in dominating fashion, 4-1.
Texas finished the season 29-3 overall and earned the programs first-ever national championship.
Junior Yuya Ito's match win was the match that captured the team national title.
"I don't even know how I did it," said Ito.
"I was really happy I got the win today. I played for the team and I think that worked out well."
With the national championship trophy on the podium with Ito, interim head coach Bruce Berque and Harrison Scott after the match, there was a sense of exhaustion, but the team was overjoyed.
"We knew we had a chance at one and two [to beat Wake Forest's No. 1 & No. 2 players], but we also knew that's where they were the strongest," said Texas head coach Bruce Berque.
"Those guys were probably the strongest at one and two throughout the last couple of years in the country. And for our guys to beat both of them was amazing and that gave us a huge lift."
Those victories tied the match at 1.
The NCAA matches are won by the team who reaches four wins first.
As for what a national championship feels like as the interim coach, Berque said: "It feels probably exactly the same now as it would if I were the assistant coach, which was my previous role, or head coach to start the year. When you get to this moment and you're part of a national championship team, you know you have that with you forever; you know you're going to share this bond with the team forever."
I think it's time to remove the interim tag from Berque's title and add national champion next to head coach of UT men's tennis program.