by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Sumit Sarkar and Mohamed Abdel-Aziz each posted straight set wins, but the Rice men’s tennis team saw its chance of closing out the regular season with a win slip away as SMU took a 5-2 win at the George R. Brown Tennis Center on Sunday.
The Owls made a strong charge for the doubles point, fueled by a win at the third position by Jacob Eskeland and Daniel Warren, the Owls first of the season at that position. The Mustangs held the Owls off on the two remaining courts to take both matches and secure the first point of the day.
Needing four singles wins to capture the dual, Rice grabbed first sets by Abdel-Aziz, Sarkar and Eric Rutledge, but Eskeland lost the first of two tiebreakers against SMU’s Roberto Rosales to give the Mustangs a split the first sets of singles.
After the Owls briefly tied the match with their wins at the second and third positions, SMU moved in front to stay with a win at six and then clinched with a three-set win by Tomas Vaise over Rutledge.
Rice (9-16) will now turn its sights on defending its two consecutive Conference USA Championships next weekend when the Owls host the event for the second time in the last three years. The tournament bracket will be released on Monday and matches being on Friday at 10 a.m.