April 8, 2012
Ron Smarr's Rice Men's tennis team summoned up a brave effort on weary legs, but 13th ranked Oklahoma summoned up the required energy to protect its ranking, downing the Owls 6-1 at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Sunday.
Playing their fifth match in the last eight days, the Owls were facing a daunting challenge in the Sooners, who had won their last six matches, including wins over #24 Tulsa, #15 Texas and #25 Texas A&M in their last three prior to Rice.
Oklahoma made a strong early statement in the early games during doubles, but the Owls rallied by the midpoint, cutting the deficit in all three matches to one game. But the Sooners regained their momentum and closed out the matches at No. 1 and 2 to grab the point. They earned a sweep in doubles by taking a tiebreaker at No. 3.
The Owls faced a singles lineup from Oklahoma that featured four players in the latest national rankings. The Sooners used that strength to take the first set in five of six matches. Sophomore Philipp Seifert was the only Owl to capture his opening set, grinding out a 7-3 win in a tiebreak to take the first set at No. 6.
The Sooners maintained their pressure in the second sets and clinched the match with straight set wins at No.2, 4 and 5.
Sam Garforth-Bles faced off against OU's 17th ranked Costin Paval on the stadium court and took a 3-2 lead in the third set before falling 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Playing at No. 3, Jonathan Chang took his second set against the Sooners' Tsvetan Mihov to a tiebreak before falling.
Seifert prevented a shutout by closing the match out with a 6-4 win in his second set.
The Owls will close out the 2012 regular season next weekend with a pair of home matches. They will host longtime conference foes Tulsa on Friday and then celebrate Senior Day when they host Texas Arlington on Sunday. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. each day at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium.