Owls Outlast Green Wave to Hang on to Rice Invite Crown
Battle moves indoors for final decision
March 23, 2014
The Rice men's tennis team needed to overcome the loss of the doubles point and the move of the final portion of the match indoors as Tommy Bennett and David Warren closed out their opponents to allow the Owls to outlast No. 67 Tulane 4-3 and win the 56th Rice Invitational presented by Wyndham Houston Medical Center on Sunday.
The win was the fifth in a row this season for the Owls (7-9) and their sixth consecutive win in the Rice Invitational.
On a cool and blustery day in Houston, Adam Gustafsson and Gustavo Gonzalez each won for the sixth time in their last nine dual matches to overcome the loss in doubles and give the Owls a 2-1. Gonzalez evened the score with his fourth straight win, dropping Tulane's Ian Van Cott, 6-4, 6-2. Gustafsson was trailing the Wave's Takuma Ohashi 5-4 in the first set, then ripped off wins in nine consecutive games to post his fifth consecutive win and raise his season record to 8-5, matching Bennett for the team lead.
Tulane answered with wins on courts two and four to take a 3-2 lead, and it was left to Bennett and Warren to extend the match as the predicted rain finally made its way to the Houston area.
Bennett dropped his first set on the stadium court against Tulane's Dominik Koepfer and trailed 6-5 in the second before forcing a tiebreaker. Warren won a first set tiebreak over Alex Van Cott, but dropped his second set 6-2. Bennett held a 3-1 lead in his third set and Warren was up 4-3 when rains forced the suspension of the match and a move to The MET in downtown Houston.
After a delay of nearly an hour, the matches resumed in the climate-controlled indoor environment on adjacent courts. Bennett saw his lead evaporate as Koepfer broke his serve to even the set. Meanwhile Warren and Alex Van Cott were headed to a second tiebreak set, which Warren won 7-5 to tie the match. Moments later, Bennett saw a Koepfer net a return to close out the match for the Owls.
Rice will be back on the court on Tuesday night when they travel to College Station to face 12th ranked Texas A&M.