AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of Nevin Arimilli’s first memories was Vince Young scoring the game-winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl. An Austin native, he’s certainly appreciating his time as a tennis player with Texas.

“I know not to take it for granted, the opportunity I get,” Arimilli said. “And that’s kind of helped me really take advantage of when I do get chances on the court to really go for it.”

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Getting those chances on the court hasn’t come easy for Arimilli. At St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Arimilli was debating between Texas and a Division III school to play tennis at for the next level.

Choosing the one that won a national title his freshman year, Arimilli had immediate adversity with the Longhorns. He suffered a back injury that sidelined him for much of his first season.

“I knew I needed to get a lot stronger to play at this level,” Arimilli said. “Having that back injury kind of forced me to look myself in the mirror and kind of take pride in the weight room.”

Just when Arimilli recovered from the back issue to play what he thought was his best tennis, he broke his wrist. That was just more adversity for a player that came on campus with not a lot of expectations.

“It’s probably one of the more remarkable transformations I’ve seen,” said Longhorns head coach Bruce Berque. “Not just as a player, but as an athlete. He was slow, I’m not going to lie, when he first got here. And now he’s actually super quick around the court.”

Now Arimilli is a key cog in the Longhorns lineup. He’s started more matches this year than in his first four combined.

Arimilli had an emotional, impressive senior day over the weekend as the Longhorns clinched the Big 12 regular season title with a win over TCU. The senior played what he considers the best match of his career to earn a huge victory for his team.

“To see him finally be able to get some light and kind of get the result that he deserves, I’m really proud of him,” said Chi Chi Huang, Arimilli’s teammate of five years. “I’m grateful that he gets to experience this in his final chapter of his tennis career.”

Arimilli and the top-ranked Longhorns now head to Kansas for the Big 12 tournament over the weekend. They’ll eye another step toward what they hope is their first national championship since 2019.