Feb. 28, 2013
On a weekend when they will be competing in one of the oldest doubles tournaments in the country, the Rice men's tennis team needed a finishing kick from their doubles teams to down Fresno State 4-3 in a dual match held at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club on Friday.
After the two teams had split the first two doubles matches, Leif Berger fought off three break points with the match on Court 3 tied at 6-6 and then combined with Jonathan Chang to break the Bulldogs serve for an 8-6 win to clinch the match.
Because of their appearances in the 124th West Coast Doubles championships, which began later on Friday, the two teams chose to play singles first in the hopes the match would be clinched and doubles not played. But those plans were short-circuited by a tight battle that saw the two teams split the six singles matches and sent the doubles teams on the court to decide the match.
"That's the first time in my career in tennis when we've started with singles first and the match had to go to doubles," Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said. "It was one of those matches where neither team ever got comfortable. We traded punches all day. We never gave up and I thought we went into doubles with a great approach."
Freshman Gustavo Gonzalez opened the scoring with a win on Court 6, but Fresno answered with a win s on Court 5 and 4 to take a 2-1 lead and the Owls needed to go to third sets in the remaining matches to stay in contention.
Freshman Adam Gustafsson bounced back from a first set loss to win on Court 2 and tie the match at 2-2. Fresno responded with a three-set win on Court 3, and the Owls hopes to send the match to doubles rested on the shoulders of Chang on Court 1.
The senior from Spring Branch Memorial bounced back from a second-set tiebreaker to down Reid deLaubenfels, tying the match at 3-3 and setting up the doubles drama.
The Owls will compete in the West Coast Doubles Championship this weekend and then return home to host Penn State and Abilene Christian a week from Saturday.