Jan. 12, 2013
When first year Rice head men's tennis coach Efe Ustundag first conceived a season-opening tournament for the Owls, he hoped it would answer some questions and provide the team with a jump start to a rugged set of early season dual matches on the schedule.
After two days of play in the Rice/Met Indoor tournament at the The Downtown Club at The Met, Ustudag has his answers and he sees his team in good shape as they prepare to face #29 Texas Tech and #9 Mississippi State next weekend.
Freshman Adam Gustafsson won his third match of the weekend and then went toe-to-toe with Junior Ore of Texas A&M in one singles semifinal. Ore, who played #1 singles for the Aggies last year, emerged with a 6-3, 7-5 decision. Earlier in the day, Philipp Seifert and Leif Berger battled Ore and Behzad Minavi for a spot in the doubles final. Playing for the first time together, the Owls' duo battled back from being down 4-1 and 40-0 to break the Aggies serve at 7-6 and force a tiebreaker.
Even though the final results saw the Owls activity come to a close in the tournament, the results left Ustundag more than encouraged.
"Adam had a great tournament, and he kept up our early success in three-set matches by winning another one today," Ustundag said. "He had a tough match against Junior Ore, but came back to play a great second set. In doubles, it looks like we've found another doubles team with the way that Philipp and Leif played."
Rice senior Jonathan Chang dropped his singles quarterfinal match in straight sets, but Ustundag was equally happy with his effort.
"Jonathan was not on his game today, but his opponent played a clean match and did not commit any unforced errors. Overall, I was happy with Jonathan's tournament as well." With the opening tournament out of the way, Ustundag and the Owls will now turn their full focus on to the upcoming matches against a pair of Top 30 opponents.
"It feels good to have seen how the team came back from the break and how we competed this weekend. We showed plenty of good things this weekend and I think we have some momentum going into next weekend. If we can get some people to help build some home court atmosphere, I think we have a chance to play some great tennis next weekend."