April 14, 2013
The Rice men's tennis team saluted three seniors on Sunday, but saw their hopes of holding or improving their seeding for the upcoming Conference USA Championship slip away as SMU held off a late charge to down the Owls 4-3 in the first of two matches on Sunday. Rice took the nightcap, downing Prairie View, 4-1.
"We wanted to send these three seniors (Jonathan Chang, Peter Frank and Dylan Tozier) with a big "W", but it didn't work out that way," Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said. "That loss is going to affect the conference seeding, it's going to impact our ranking. The point was to win two out of two today. Any kind of a split was not going to be good enough."
SMU took the early lead by capturing the doubles point and formula for a Rice comeback became more difficult as the Mustangs won four of six first sets in singles. But while Tommy Bennett and Peter Frank continued their first set success to provide two points, it fell to Philipp Seiftert and Gustavo Gonzalez to keep chances of victory alive by forcing third sets.
Seifert roared back from an opening set loss to down Mischa Nowicki 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 and tie the match at 3-3. Gonzalez forced a third set only to fall 6-4 in the match-decider to SMU's Nate Lammons.
The Owls closed out the regular season later on Sunday, downing Prairie View, 4-1. Bennett closed out a strong freshman campaign with a pair of singles wins on the day to take over the team lead in dual singles wins (13-7) while fellow freshman Adam Gustafsson added his own win In singles while the duo teamed to clinch the doubles point.
Ustundag said that despite being a low as a sixth seed in this week's C-USA tournament, he thinks the Owls could still prove to be a spoiler.
"I'm optimistic going into the tournament. We've played all of the top seeds except for Memphis and they have been either 4-3 losses or a very tough 5-2 loss. I told them in the team room after the SMU loss that if we play well enough, we still have a shot at this tournament. But we can't be flat in doubles and try to pick it up in singles. We're not good enough to give away a point and then try to come back from it."
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