Jan. 25, 2014
Natalie Beazant and Dominique Harmath weathered first set losses and won third set tiebreakers to lead 22nd ranked Rice to a 4-3 win over #24 Florida State on Saturday at the ITA Kickoff Weekend at the Penick-Allison Tennis in Austin.
With the win, the Owls will face off with 17th ranked Texas at 1 p.m. on Sunday looking for the their first berth in the ITA Indoor National Championship which will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia from February 7-10.
"This was a gritty team victory," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "We had great efforts on all six singles lines. They each fought their hearts out all day."
After Rice had taken a 1-0 lead with a strong effort in doubles, the Seminoles responded by winning four of six first sets in singles. Freshman Alison Ho was one of two Owls to win her first set and she quickly moved the score to 2-0 with a straight set win at #6, but the quest for the final two points needed to clinch the match would prove to be far more difficult for the Owls to secure.
"Alison's win was huge because it really did put additional pressure on Florida State," Schmidt said. "I was pleased the way we came out in doubles. Even though the scores were close, we continued to be aggressive. When we got to singles, there were so many changes in momentum," Schmidt noted.
At the top of the singles lineup, the Seminoles took the opening sets at the first four positions and they cut the Owls lead to 2-1 with a straight set win at #3. But senior Dominique Harmath set the stage for the win by rebounding from a first set loss at #2 to take the second and force the first of three, third-set tiebreakers, which are being used on a trial basis by the NCAA and ITA through the end of the indoor championships.
Harmath and FSU's Emily Fanning were tied 6-6 in the decisive frame before the senior from Toronto ran off four consecutive points to extend the Owls lead to 3-1 and set the stage for her doubles partner Beazant to stage a rally of her own.
"I'm really proud of Dominique," Schmidt stated. "She did a great job of turning the tide. She dropped her first set quickly, but came right back to win the second. That's her experience in big matches showing. Dom's never out of any match and today was vintage Dominique," she added.
Beazant also fell behind a set and trailed 5-4 in the second set. But as the Seminoles grabbed points on courts 5 and 6 to tie the match, the returning All-America drew upon her own experiences to win the final three games and move to a climatic tiebreaker against FSU's Daneika Borthwick.
"Natalie embraces moments like this," Schmidt said. "She told Younes (assistant coach Younes Limam) that these are the matches she lives for and she went out and played loose and inspired tennis."
Beazant fell behind 3-1 in the tiebreaker but rebounded to win nine of the next 11 points to close out the match and send the Owls into a Sunday match against the Longhorns. The two have met annually in dual competition and Rice picked up its first win in the series last year, 4-3.
"We're excited to face Texas. Both teams know each other very well and we have a great deal of respect for their program. It should be a great match," Schmidt said.
Tennis Match Results
Florida State vs Rice
1/25/2014 at Austin, Texas
(Penick-Allison Tennis Center)
#22 Rice 4, #24 Florida State 3
1. Natalie Beazant (RICE) def. Daneika Borthwick (FSU) 2-6, 7-5, 10-5
2. Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Emily Fanning (FSU) 2-6, 6-1, 10-6
3. Kerrie Cartwright (FSU) def. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) 6-4, 6-3
4. Mia Vriens (FSU) def. Katherine Ip (RICE) 7-5, 6-2
5. Kristina Schleich (FSU) def. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 4-6, 6-2, 10-6
6. Alison Ho (RICE) def. Daniela Schippers (FSU) 6-2, 6-2
1. Natalie Beazant/Dominique Harmath (RICE) vs. Daneika Borthwick/Emily Fanning (FSU) 5-2, unfinished
2. Liat Zimmermann/Katherine Ip (RICE) def. Kerrie Cartwright/Kristina Schleich (FSU) 6-4
3. Alison Ho/Solomiya Zinko (RICE) def. Daniela Schippers/Mia Vriens (FSU) 6-4
Florida State 2-1; National ranking #24
Rice 2-0; National ranking #22
Order of finish: Doubles (,2,3); Singles (6,3,2,5,4,1)
ITA Kickoff Weekend