In a matchup of University of Texas at Austin teammates and close friends, Pierre-Yves Bailly rallied past Siem Woldeab, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, on Sunday to win the singles title of the Greenview Development and Majestic Realty Men’s Pro Tennis Open 2023. Because of persistent rain, the final was moved to the indoor courts at the UT Golf Club facility, about 30 minutes northwest of the Texas Tennis Center, the host site.
Instead of starting at 9 a.m. as planned, the final started much later in the afternoon. The delay added an extra layer of anticipation to the showdown between two players seeking their biggest ITF title to date.
Woldeab, the 22-year-old senior from California, took the early lead in the opening set by employing his effective “chip & charge” tactic of rushing the net. In spite of Bailly’s effort to counter his aggressive play, Woldeab kept charging forward — as he had done all week – and easily clinched the set.
The second set was a fierce battle as Bailly, the 20-year-old junior from Belgium, strategically extended rallies, compelling his opponent to take an even more proactive role.
The paths to the final differed for the two players. Bailly, entering as a wild card, held an advantage over Woldeab, who faced a more arduous journey, navigating through three additional matches in the qualifying rounds. Bailly, on the other hand, advanced to the semifinals when his two previous opponents retired during his matches.
Woldeab stumbled in the second set but fortunately avoided injury. He later revealed a palm injury from earlier in the week, though he quickly dismissed it as a contributing factor to the match outcome, saying, “It’s not the reason I lost, by any means.”
As the third set unfolded, both players displayed unwavering determination. Woldeab intensified the pressure on his fellow Longhorn, but Bailly showcased persistence, ultimately capturing the set by 6-3 and the match. In a display of sportsmanship, Woldeab rushed to the net after the match point, embracing Bailly with smiles on their faces.
Despite being visibly fatigued compared to his teammate, Woldeab commended Bailly.
“Pierre is not only my doubles teammate but also my best friend on the team,” Woldeab said. “I’m glad we were able to play even though he got the better of me today.” With a chuckle, he acknowledged the likelihood of hearing about this match “for the rest of my life.”
Bailly, who had previously won a 15K ITF event, beamed with pride after the biggest win of his career. “It’s incredible to stand in front of him and play him in a 25K final,” he said about Woldeab. “He played an amazing tournament, I played an amazing tournament too, and I’m just extremely happy to share these moments with him.”
Article and photograph by Bevo Video Productions, a division of Texas Student Media at UT-Austin’s Moody College of Communication