Wang's Senior Moment Sparks Owls
C-USA Championship opens April 20
April 15, 2012
Andy Wang answered the call in his final match at Jake Hess while Jonathan Chang rallied back from near defeat to lead the 44th ranked Rice Owls to a 4-2 win over UT-Arlington on Senior Day on Sunday.
Wang ground out a three-set win at No. 6 and Chang bounced back from 4-2 deficit in the deciding tiebreaker to give the Owls the win. Due to threatening weather, the normal match order was reversed, with singles played first. The change in order and the threatening conditions also moved up Senior Day ceremonies to prior to the start of the match, when Rice honored its four seniors, Sam Garforth-Bles, Michael Nuesslein, Christian Saravia and Wang, along with retiring head coach Ron Smarr.
While his three fellow seniors are staples in the starting lineup, Wang arrived at Jake Hess on Sunday expecting little more activity than to take part in pre-match ceremonies to receive his senior plaque. However, minutes before the match was to start, he found himself in the lineup due to late scratches by Garforth-Bles (illness) and Peter Frank (injury).
He won the opening set 6-2 only to have UTA's Jason Lateko for a third set with a 6-3 response in the second set. With his team hanging on to a 2-1 lead and with teammates Chang and Leif Berger locked in three-set matches, Wang was called upon to deliver one of the two remaining points for the clinch.
Chang fell behind 3-1 while Berger was down 3-0 at No. 5, but Wang eased some of the tension by racing to a 5-0 lead and then closing the Owls' third point with a 6-1 win.
Berger would fall in his third set to close the margin to 3-2, but Chang fashioned a pair of rallies to clinch the match. He bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the third set. When the final set moved to a tiebreak, he fell behind 4-2 before winning five of the next six points to clinch the match for the Owls.
The two teams attempted to play the doubles point, but that effort was called off early in the matches when a light rain began to fall at Jake Hess.
The Owls will learn their final seeding for the C-USA Championship on Monday, Competition will get underway at the UCF Tennis Complex in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.