March 17, 2013
Gustavo Gonzalez shook off a second set loss to bounce back and deliver the clinching point as Rice downed 53rd ranked Texas A&M Corpus Christi 4-1 on Sunday at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium and win the 55th Rice Invitational.
The win was the Owls second in as many days over a nationally-ranked opponent after dropping their first eight matchups with ranked foes. It also allowed them to win the Rice Invitational title for the sixth consecutive year
"It was a great weekend for us," Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said." We've had our share of tough losses but I think we made up some ground in confidence and in the hopefully in some rankings, and got our season back to .500 . I am really proud of these guys for the way they responded. "
Unlike their win over 33rd ranked Oregon on Saturday, the Owls jumped out an early lead by taking the doubles point. Leif Berger and Jonathan Chang won their fourth straight at No. 3 while Philipp Seifert and Peter Frank followed with an 8-6 win on court two.
"After watching them play the last two days, I felt like we had the advantage in doubles," Ustundag said " Jon and Leif jumped out early to get the win (on court 3) and Peter and Philipp got an early break and held on to it to secure the point. "
Rice continued its momentum into singles, winning five of six first sets. For the second consecutive day, Philipp Seifert and Adam Gutafsson delivered quick points to push the lead to 3-0. However, Ustundag knew that the Islanders would not roll over.
"Texas A&M Corpus Christi is a team that never gives up. Steve Moore does a great job of getting his team fired up for every match and suddenly we were headed to third sets on four courts. "
It fell to Gonzalez, a freshman from Westin, Florida, to deliver the clinching point. After racing to a 5-1 lead in the third set, he withstood a late charge from Guillaume Rauseo before closing out the match with a service break to win 6-2. 4-6, 6-3.
"In the three set matches, we were up comfortably on six with Gustavo and Tommy was up a break, but I the feeling that if the match kept going and going, it was going to get more up in the air," Ustundag said. "So it was great to see Gustavo come up big. It would have been easy to lose his concentration and get down on himself when he was broken at 5-2, but he came back to play a really strong game to close it out. "
The Owls will be back in action on Saturday night when they travel to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns at 6 p.m. The match will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.