March 9, 2013
Tommy Bennett, Adam Gustafsson and Gustavo Gonzalez teamed with senior Peter Frank to give Rice a 4-0 win over Abilene Christian and give the Owls a split of their tennis doubleheader at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Saturday. In the opener, Rice could not sustain a rally that allowed them to take the doubles point and fell to 72nd ranked Penn State, 4-3.
"Even though we lost a tough match to Penn State earlier, it was good to see how the team came ready out to play against Abilene," Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said. "That was good to see them be able to put the first match behind them and finish the day on a positive note. We fought hard and it was good see some guys who had tough results earlier end the day with a win."
Tommy Bennett won both of his singles matches on the day, providing the second point against Penn State and the third of the Owls' four points against ABCU. Gustaffson and Gonzalez rebounded from first match losses to win in the nightcap, with Gonzalez delivering the fourth and clinching point.
The match vs. Abilene Christian began with singles and the match was discontinued when the Owls clinched the match. Jonathan Chang, who provided the third point vs. Penn State, was extended to three sets and was leading 4-2 in the third when the match ended. Junior Philipp Seifert had split his first two sets when the match ended.
In the early match, the Owls battled from behind to take a 1-0 lead by winning a pair of tiebreaker games to win at No. 2 & 3 doubles.
Bennett put the Owls back up 2-1, but Penn State race to a 3-2 lead, before Chang tied it up on the stadium court. After dropping his first set, Seifert rebounded for force a tiebreak in the second set and keep the Owls hopes alive, before dropping the tiebreak 7-5 to give Penn State the win.
"It was good to see Tommy bounce back after some tough losses, and Jonathan continues to shine in his first year of playing at No.1, so there was some things to be happy about," Ustundag stated. "But at the end of the day, it's another 4-3 loss to a ranked team and we're running out of those opportunities," he added.
The Owls will be back home on the Jake Hess courts next weekend, hosting the 55th Rice Invitational. The three-day round robin will feature Radford, 40th ranked Oregon and 51st ranked Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Play begins on Friday with non-Rice matches started at 9 a.m. each day followed by Rice at noon,
"We some good luck in our home tournament over the years and we know we have to step it up with a pair of ranked teams coming in," Ustundag said. "This team still has a chance to enjoy some success and we've come close with ranked opponents, so we have to just have a short-term memory about today and get ready to play next week."