by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Dallas, TX-Eric Rutledge won his team-leading 17th dual singles match, but 38th ranked Rice could not overcome a pair of missed match points in doubles as No. 36 SMU downed the Owls 4-1 on the Mustangs Senior Day at the SMU Tennis Complex on Sunday.
“Eric did a great job of getting us on the scoreboard and we had good chances on two other courts, but we never had a shot at that fourth point after the loss in doubles,” Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said.
After teams split wins on courts two and three, the critical doubles point came down to court one where Tommy Bennett and Daniel Warren had a pair of chances to claim the point, only to see SMU’s Yates Johnson and Markus Kerner battle back and then win in a tiebreaker.
Knowing they needed four wins in singles to pick up the win, the Owls seemed on track to be in a solid position to do so, as Rutledge, Bennett, Emanuel Llamas and David Warren held leads in first sets. But while the first three closed out their sets, Warren saw Markus Kerner storm back from a 5-3 deficit to win 7-5.
“We had a couple of opportunities slip away from us, “Ustundag said. “Tommy had played a very good match against a ranked player and Manny was serving to force a tiebreak in the second set. But you have to give SMU credit because they handled the adversity better than we did today.”
The Owls will now turn their attention to defending their Conference USA Championship next weekend in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Seedings for the tournament will be announced early this week and first round action is set to being on Friday.