Another season review of a Horned Frog program with a historic season of lifting trophies, climbing atop the rankings, and reaching major national success. TCU Men’s Tennis has become a national power under Head Coach David Roditi and continued its superb play throughout the 2023 season, which opened with an ITA National Championship, included a Big 12 Tournament Championship, and closed with in the NCAA Tournament Semifinal for a #4 overall final ranking, its ninth consecutive Top 10 finish.
The Horned Frogs began the Indoor season as reigning Indoor National Champions and immediately returned to dominant play. An undefeated Indoor season saw TCU only taken to a decisive seventh point once (vs. #14 North Carolina in Chapel HIll), earning seven Top-15 wins. Five of the six victories secured by the Frogs during the ITA Indoor Tournament we sweeps, including the Finals where TCU downed the Texas 4-0 in the first of three matches with the Longhorns that would have a trophy up for grabs. In the Final, TCU earned the Doubles point from Court 1 with TCU’s Jake Fearnley & Luc Fomba taking down UT’s Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper 7-5 in a heavyweight bout of Top-5 ranked Doubles pairs. Sander Jong earned a point for the Frogs with a 6-2, 6-3 match and then it was the true freshmen Jack Pinnington Jones (6-4, 6-0) and Sebastian Gorzny (6-4, 6-1) who locked up the clinching points to bring home a second consecutive ITA National Championship trophy to Fort Worth.
With the action moving to the outdoor purple courts, TCU earned impressive 7-0 sweeps of ranked UT Arlington and ranked UCLA & USC to go with a ranked win over Illinois, but the undefeated regular season was spoiled in a “non-conference” matchup with the Longhorns. During the Big 12 conference portion of the schedule, TCU cruised to ranked sweeps over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor before a 4-1 victory over Texas Tech, setting up a winner-take-all contest with Texas for the Big 12 regular season Title in the season finale in Austin. TCU once again took the Doubles point off of the Longhorns, but could not maintain the advantage as Texas came away with the win through the Singles, with five of the six singles contests being pushed to a decisive third set.
Although the Longhorns took the regular season crown, it would not be the final time TCU would match up with Texas with hardware on the line, as the two clear favorites for the Big 12 Tournament. UT escaped Oklahoma 4-2 in its conference semifinal while the Frogs swept past the Oklahoma State to reach the Big 12 Championship match in Lawrence, KS and a fourth date with the ‘Horns. TCU once again got out to a 1-0 lead by taking the Doubles point with a Gorzny/Vives 6-3 set win and a Fearnley/Fomba 7-6 (7-5) tiebreaker win over Harper/Spizzirri. Texas quickly tied the contest from Court 1, as top-ranked singles player Spizzirri took down Jake Fearnley 6-1, 6-4. TCU then received three straight points from Lui Maxted, Sebastian Gorzny, and Luc Fomba to take home the Big 12 crown.
With two trophies in hand for the season, the Horned Frogs entered the NCAA Tournament as the #2 overall seed with the opportunity to host through the Sweet 16. The Horned Frogs swept through its Regional, sweeping WAC Champion UT-Arlington and #19 Texas A&M while not dropping a single set. Next up was a Super Regional showdown with #16 Mississippi State in Fort Worth, where the Frogs bested the Bulldogs with a 4-1 win to advance to the National portion of the tournament in Orlando, FL. TCU’s Quarterfinal opponent was the #7 Michigan Wolverines and a first for the Frogs in the Tournament: the need for a comeback. The Frogs dropped the Doubles point and had struggles early in Singles as Jake Fearnley & Lui Maxted each lost their first set from Courts 1 & 6. However Courts 2-5 were primed for battle in the first set, as each emerged with close set wins: Fomba won 7-5, Pinnington won 7-6 (7-4), Sander Jong won 7-6 (7-4), Sebastiian Gorzny 7-6 (8-6). Those first set wins took the wind out of Michigan’s sails as each of those courts followed with swift second set victories by the Frogs to secure a spot for TCU in the Final Four and win number 250 for David Roditi.
This set up a semifinal showdown with 2-seed Ohio State Buckeyes where the road unfortunately ended for the Horned Frogs, as TCU suffered just its third defeat of the season and its first sweep. TCU took the lead in the Doubles point as the Jong/Pinnington pair earned a 6-4 set win that was evened as Fearnley/Fomba dropped their set 3-6 to put the point in the hands of Court 2. Sebastian Gorzny & Pedro Vives forced the set into tiebreakers with an intense battle, but eventually dropped the set and the Doubles point 7-6 (7-4). Following that difficult Doubles point, the Frogs ran out of steam in Singles; although Luc Fomba, Jack Pinnington, and Sander Jong each won opening sets, Lui Maxted, Jake Fearnley, and Sebastian Gorzny were each swept in straight sets to give the Buckeyes the ticket to the Finals.
Despite the disappointment of the NCAA Tournament semifinal, the 2023 season can be considered its most successful in program history. The team earned a final ranking of 4th overall while five Singles players (#19 Jake Fearnley, #25 Luc Fomba, #53 Jack Pinnington, #71 Sander Jong, and #84 Sebastian Gorzny) and four Doubles pairs (#4 Feranley/Fomba, #26 Jong/Maxted, #73 Jong/Pinnington, and #82 Gorzny/Vives) earned Top-100 final rankings.
The Horned Frogs are primed for continued success going forward. Although TCU is losing senior stars Sander Jong and All-American Luc Fomba, the Frogs have Tomas Jirosek and All-American Jake Fearnley are set to return for a fifth collegiate season. David Roditi’s squad will also feature rising sophomores Sebastian Gorzny & Texas Regional Rookie of the Year Jack Pinnington, and rising juniors Lui Maxted and Pedro Vives to form a scary squad in 2024. TCU also brings in a highly touted recruiting class, ranked 24th nationally by the Tennis Recruiting Network. bringing in three Top-55 recruits: Duncan Chan, Julian Alonso, and Kai Quirjins. TCU is already set to host a kickoff weekend draw for the ITA Indoor Tournament in Fort Worth in January as the Horned Frogs will push for a 3rd straight National Championship.