Men's and Women's Tennis return to NCAA Tournament play.
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2016 Men’s Tennis Awards
Down ODU 4-2
First serves set for 11 a.m.
Rice upset ninth-ranked Texas Tech on March 27
Rice defeated Princeton 4-3 on February 20
Rice downed Louisiana-Lafayette and Incarnate Word on Valentine's Day
The Owls opened the 2016 season by defeating Abilene Christian and Prairie View A&M on January 15.
Rice hosted Old Dominion on January 25.
Heading into his fourth year as Rice's head men's tennis coach, Efe Ustundag has his Owls poised to return to the top of Conference USA in a year the conference's championship returns to Rice for the first time since 2010.
The Owls head into dual play with their first preseason ranking since 2013, entering the year ranked 58th and are coming off an appearance in the C-USA Championship match in 2015 despite the loss of two-year mainstay Tommy Bennett, who redshirted last year while recovering from an injury.
The Owls closed out the 2015 dual season ranked 54th as well as C-USA runners up, completing a year that also saw them post their first win over a top 20 team since 2009 when they downed #19 Northwestern.
Ustundag assumed the reigns of the program in July on 2012 after being named as Ron Smarr's successor on November 10, 2011 after eight seasons under the Hall of Famer who retired as college tennis' career wins leader.
In eight seasons as Smarr's assistant, Ustundag helped guide the Owls to seven top 50 rankings, seven NCAA berths and produced a qualifier for the NCAA singles championship six times. The Owls also have racked up 29 All-Conference honors during Ustundag's tenure.
A doubles All-America selection at Rice, Ustundag also anchored the Owls singles lineup during his final three seasons and maintained a national NCAA ranking as high as 16th. He was the MVP at the 1996 Team Championships in San Diego.
Ustundag followed that up with Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Scholar Athlete of the Year and Tennis Magazine's Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for sportsmanship and leadership in 1999. He was an All-WAC Singles First-Team selection and All-WAC Doubles Second-Team honoree en route to NCAA Region VI Senior Player of the Year.
He began his coaching career in 2002, serving for two seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant coach and helping lead the Red Raiders advanced to Big 12 Semifinals in 2003.
Ustundag spent two years as a professional player and assistant coach for Enka Tennis Club in his native Turkey. He assisted Ali Gorec, the former Turkish Davis Cup coach, in various administrative and coaching duties.
Ustundag won the national championship in both singles and doubles during 2000, while capturing the national indoor championship in both events in 2001. He also was a member of the Turkish Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2001.
Before attending Rice, Ustundag attended the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida from 1990-93. He was awarded the NBTA Grand Slam award for academics, citizenship and athletics in 1992.
Ustundag graduated from Rice in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in managerial studies and sports management. He makes his home in Houston with wife Suur Biliciler-Ustundag and daughter Ahenk (3).
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