Jan. 31, 2014
Every road trip in the college tennis season is an occasion for a team to have to adjust to changing circumstance and for the Rice men's tennis team, their weekend journey to Lubbock to face a pair of ranked opponents is already living up to that credo.
Rice opens weekend action on Saturday, facing 10th ranked Mississippi State at noon. The Bulldogs needed a third set win on court 2 to outlast host Texas Tech 4-3 on Friday afternoon. Rice and MSU will wrap up the weekend with a Sunday match that has been indoors and up to 9 a.m. because of deteriorating weather forecasts.
"We're here to play matches, so we are happy to play wherever they are," Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said. "I like the way our team has worked this week. Even with a pair of wins, they were not happy with the way they played last week and they have a mindset that they can't wait to get back on the court."
The weekend setting is a familiar one for Ustundag and assistant coach Bojan Szumanski. Ustundag began his coaching career at Tech, while Szumanski left Lubbock as the Red Raiders career leader in wins. Both are well aware of the home court advantage the Red Raiders can enjoy.
"Obviously, there is a little nostalgia about Lubbock," Ustundag said. "It's hard to escape when you come to the facility and there is a huge photo of Bojan on a windscreen. Their head coach (Tim Siegel) is my mentor and gave me my start in coaching. This is a great place to play and this can be one of the toughest places to play, especially when they are outdoors," he added.
That home court advantage played out on Friday as Tech extended Mississippi State to the end. The Bulldogs will be looking to bounce back on Saturday against the Owls, who lost to MSU 6-1 last year at home.
"Although we played each other last year, these are two vastly different teams than the ones who met at Jake Hess," Ustundag said. "We both have replaced at least half our lineup so there will be a lot of interesting matchups."
Aside from the nostalgia angle, Sunday's early indoor start against Tech also allows the Owls to improve upon one of the better efforts of 2013 when fell just short in presenting Ustundag a win over a top 30 team and his coaching mentor in his debut as Rice head coach. Despite dropping the doubles point, the Owls extended Tech to the final match before the Red Raiders captured the final point in a 4-3 win.
"I think it's always easier to accept changes in venue when you are on the road because the home team always is taken out of its comfort zone," Ustundag said. "I know our guys are ready to play anywhere. That was a very tough match to lose last year and our guys remember how close we were to getting the win," he added.
Rice Scholar Athletes Honored
02/26/2017 - Rice Athletics and the R Association honored some of its best and brightest on Sunday evening as the 2017 Rice Scholar Athletes and Honor Athletes ...
Rutledge Honored for Weekend Success
02/14/2017 - Eric Rutledge has been named the Conference USA Male Tennis Athlete of the Week for the period ending February 12, the conference office announced ...
Friday's Lessons Trigger Sunday's Success
02/12/2017 - Less than 48 hours after they found themselves unable to overcome a sluggish start in a loss at Princeton, the Rice men’s tennis team used...
Owls Can't Shake Slow Start in Loss to Tigers
02/10/2017 - The Rice men’s tennis team could not overcome a sluggish start in doubles and fell to Princeton 4-3 at the Jadwin Gym on Friday.
Early Deficit Dooms Owls
01/29/2017 - After repelling multiple chances to call it a day, the Rice men’s tennis team found itself one answer short of completing remarkable rally,...
Ducks Hold Off Owls Charge
01/28/2017 - The Rice men’s tennis team could not overcome a sluggish start in doubles and the Oregon Ducks took a 4-2 decision in the opening round of...
Oregon Up First as Owls Return to ITA Kickoff
01/27/2017 - After posting a 4-1 mark to open the season, the Rice men’s tennis team opens a month of matches away from home when the Owls make their...
Owls Bounce Back with Sweep
01/22/2017 - The Rice men’s tennis team shook off the residue of a hard-fought loss on Saturday and withstood the challenge of blustery conditions and an ...
- Top Videos /
- Online Store