Smith Clinches Historic Fourth Title for Owls
Sixth consecutive finals appearance
Face North Texas at noon Saturday
C-USA Women's Tennis Championship
Face winner of Southern Miss and UTEP
The Rice women's tennis team captured its third consecutive C-USA title with a 4-0 win over Marshall on April 19
The Rice women's tennis team returned home for their first home match in a month to host Baylor and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Rice opened the 2014 dual season with a 7-0 win over Lamar
Conference USA Championship Quarterfinal
Rice defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 7-0 on January 21.
C-USA Co-Coach of the Year 2012
C-USA Coach of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015
2013 Wilson/ITA Texas Region Coach of the Year
As she embarks upon her eighth spring campaign as the head coach of Rice Women's Tennis, Elizabeth Schmidt will look to take the Owls to an unprecedented fourth consecutive C-USA championship as well as a fifth consecutive berth in the NCAA Championship.
Schmidt has posted a 114-60 (.655) mark in her first seven years and the Owls are only the third team in the 20-year history of Conference USA to win three consecutive titles. In addition, she has led four consecutive NCAA qualifiers into the round of 32, a first for any Rice tennis program as well as to four consecutive top 30 finishes.
Her 2015 Owls overcame another rugged early season schedule to rise back into the national top 30 heading into NCAA action in addition to putting a fitting cap on a spectacular opening year for the GRBTC by capturing the Owls first C-USA Women's Tennis title at home when they downed Marshall. He colleagues in the conference honored her for a third consecutive year with their coach of the year award, after she shared the honor in 2012. The 2015 season was capped by senior Natalie Beazant becoming an All-America for the second time in her career.
In 2014, the Owls face a rugged schedule that included defending NCAA champion Stanford, and emerged with a 9-7 mark against ranked teams, including a pair of wins over teams who were ranked in the top 20 at the time of the match. She led the Owls to a second straight finish in the top 20 of the ITA's final poll, ending the year ranked 23rd.
The 2014 season saw a pair of standouts, Dominique Harmath and Kimberly Anicete, who had anchored Schmidt's early recruiting efforts, complete their careers ranked in the Rice career top ten in dual singles wins. However, Schmidt addressed the loss of those two stalwarts by signing a pair of players (Lindsey Hodge and Savannah Durkin) who were ranked by Tennisrecruiting. Net as the 12th best class in the nation.
Schmidt's 2013 team Owls proved that their breakout 2012 season was no fluke, ending Tulsa's three-year reign as Conference USA Champions and earning the program's second automatic bid to the NCAA Tennis Championship. The Owls posted a 20-4 regular season mark, a career-best for Schmidt, including a 10-4 record against ranked opponents.
For her efforts, she was honored by league coaches as the 2013 C-USA Coach of the Year as well as being one of 12 coaches honored by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as 2013 Wilson/ITA Regional Coaches of the Year. Schmidt earned the honor for the Texas Region and was one of 12 finalists for the Wilson/ITA National Women's Tennis Coach of the Year award.
Schmidt led the Owls to an 18-9 mark in 2012, earning Rice's first trip the NCAA Championship since 2006 with an at-large berth. The Owls earned their berth in part on reaching the C-USA title match for the first time in 20006 when the earned the league's automatic bid by winning the title.
The Owls then staged a pair of epic wins over two Top 20 programs (#18 Illinois & #16 Ole Miss) to earn a trip to Athens for the Sweet 16 in school history.
Schmidt's Owls have won 114 matches in her first seven seasons, including 44 wins in the last six years over nationally-ranked opposition and five in NCAA Championship competition. They have continued to excel as well in the classroom, consistently posting the best GPA in Conference USA.
in 2011, the Owls closed out the season with a 14-10 record while maintaining a national ranking through an entire season for the first time since 2008.
In 2010, Rice finished with a 14-9 record, which included wins over then #18 Arkansas at home and a thrilling, come-from-behind win on the road vs. then #27 VCU. The Owls finished with a total of six wins over ranked opponents, three at home and three on the road. Of their nine losses, eight came to ranked opponents and all but on came on the road.
Schmidt, who began her coaching career as an assistant at Rice from 2004-06, was named the program's third head coach on August 14, 2008.
In her first season as a head coach, Schmidt led the Owls to a 13-12 and reached the semifinals of the C-USA tournament after posting a pair of wins.
Schmidt returned to Rice, where she began her coaching career in 2006 as an assistant, after two seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame.
The Irish compiled a 50-13 record over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, including a program-best 28-4 mark and NCAA quarterfinal appearance in 2007. The Fighting Irish upended 13 Top-25 programs and ended the season with the No. 7 ranking. In 2008, the Fighting Irish went 22-9 and once again advanced to the NCAA Tournament and its recruiting class received a No. 3 ranking from TennisRecruiting.net.
Schmidt was instrumental in Rice's historic 2005-06 season, as the Owls reeled off three consecutive upsets to win the Conference USA tournament for the program's first-ever league championship. Rice became the first No. 7 seed ever to reach the title match of the C-USA tournament and knocked off top-seeded SMU, ending the Mustangs' 12-match winning streak. That earned Rice its first trip to the NCAA Championship since 1998, and the Owls finished 13-13 overall and ranked 66th in the nation (after peaking at 51st).
|2011-12||18||9||Finals||Round of 16||27|
|2012-13||20||4||Champions||Round of 32||22|
|2013-14||18||7||Champions||Round of 32||23|
|2014-15||17||9||Champions||Round of 32||28|
Schmidt's first season at Rice saw the Owls go 16-9 - posting the most wins for Rice since 1997 - and crack the national top 30 before reaching the Western Athletic Conference tournament final for the first time ever and finishing ranked 51st.
Rice had several individual standouts during Schmidt's tenure - with four players earning all-conference accolades last season - but none more so than Blair DiSesa, who was the Conference USA Player of the Year and an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in her final campaign, as well as the first Rice player since 1986 to earn an invitation to the NCAA Singles Championship. She was ranked as high as 31st in the nation.
Schmidt was a standout player at UCLA, earning All-America accolades in doubles in 1996-97 and finishing that season ranked 16th in the nation in partnered play and 38th in singles. She was a two-time participant in the NCAA Singles Championship and an all-Pac-10 selection in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Schmidt helped the Bruins to a pair of second-place finishes in the Pac-10 - matching the best results in program history - and trips to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in 1997 and 2000.
Three times a Pac-10 All-Academic honoree, she graduated with honors in 2000 with a degree in sociology. She was the 2000 women's recipient of the Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarship, awarded annually to the league's top male and female student-athletes. Schmidt was twice honored with the ITA's Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and won the regional Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award in 1999. She also completed her master's degree in public administration from the University of Houston in 2006.
Schmidt spent four years playing professionally, peaking at 137th in the WTA world doubles rankings (in 2003) and 380th in singles (in `02). She earned her only career title in the doubles draw of the ITF event in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2001, but also reached six other finals in doubles and advanced to the doubles semifinals a total of 23 times in her career. In 2003, she played in the doubles qualifying at The Championships Wimbledon.
Born Aug. 23, 1977, Schmidt is a native of Austin, Texas, and 1996 graduate of Westlake High School. She was a three-time state singles champion and a Prince All-American during her prep career, helping Westlake to the 1992 team state title. She compiled high school records of 120-6 in singles and 62-4 in doubles and was as high as seventh in doubles and 26th in singles in the USTA national rankings.
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