by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Rice men’s tennis head coach Efe Ustundag has been named the Conference USA Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year for a second straight year in a vote by his conference peers, the conference announced on Wednesday.
Tommy Bennett was named to the All-Conference USA first team in both singles and with David Warren to the first team in doubles. Warren joined Jake Hansen in earning second team honors in singles, while Hansen and Eric Rutledge were named to the second team in singles.
Ustundag was tabbed by conference coaches for the honor after leading the Owls to their first consecutive C-USA crowns and Rice’s first back-to-back conference titles since the Owls won five consecutive SWC titles from 1968-72. The Owls (23-7) will face Cornell in the opening round of the NCAA Championship on Friday, May 12 in Waco.
Bennett has posted an 8-8 record this year, including a 7-1 mark at the second line. He and Warren are currently ranked 68th in doubles and have a 10-4 heading into NCAA action. They won the main draw consolation championship at the 2016 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men's All-American Championship and qualified for the ITA Indoor National Championship in November.
Warren is third on the team with 15-6 singles record, his third straight year with at least 15 wins. He won a pair of matches at the C-USA Championship, defeating MTSU’ Miguel Negre 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to clinch a spot in the championship and then ODU’s Javier Jover Maestre, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 to tie the title match 3-3. Those two wins gave him a 7-0 record in his career at the conference championship.
Hansen won a career-high 16 dual singles matches this year to finish second on the team(16-6) He clinched the Owls second consecutive C-USA title with a 7-5, 7-5 win over ODU’s Jacob Nicolussi to cap a comeback from a 3-0 deficit. He was named C-USA Athlete of the Week in consecutive weeks during the season, becoming the first Owl since 2007 to win the honor outright in consecutive weeks.
Rutledge and Hansen own a 14-6 mark in doubles, including a 10-5 mark at the third position. The opened the fall campaign by winning the doubles at the Racquet Club of Midland Invitational in September.