April 22, 2012
The Conference USA Men's Tennis final will have a new lineup for the first time in seven years as the 33rd ranked Memphis Tigers avenged a regular season loss and downed 47th ranked Rice 4-1 in the semifinals of the 2012 C-USA Championship in Orlando, Florida.
Rice (18-9) and Tulsa had decided the men's tennis title in each of the first six years both were members of Conference USA, but the Tigers (19-4) reached their first C-USA title on the strength with wins in the final four spots in their lineup, with the final two points coming in second-set tiebreakers.
Senior Sam Garforth-Bles provided the Owls their only point with a straight set win over Memphis' David O'Hare while Christian Saravia held a 6-5 second set lead at No. 2, but the match was decided when the Tigers' Joe Salisbury won7-5 second set tiebreak over Michael Nuesslein.
The loss marked the first time since 2003 that the Owls have not played for their conference title in men's tennis and may be the final match in the career of Hall of Fame head coach Ron Smarr, the college tennis career record holder in wins (873-344).
The Owls have an outside chance to earn an at large berth in the NCAA tournament and extend their run of nine consecutive NCAA bids, but the loss in the semis along with upsets in several other conference tournaments this weekend have only added to the factors against Rice.