Feb. 1, 2014
The top-ranked Stanford Cardinal rode the depth of a lineup that featured two ranked doubles teams and five ranked singles players to fend off a stern challenge from #22 Rice and take a 5-2 win at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"Our team showed tremendous heart today," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "I still believe that we can play with anyone in the country. We just need to trust ourselves and have confidence. Credit to Stanford, they did a fabulous job of coming in here and stepping up when they needed to," she added.
In front of an energetic crowd of 650 fans, the Owls weathered the loss of the doubles point to rebound in singles, and Schmidt said the turnout played a big factor in the team's effort
"I told the team on Friday I was hoping we would have a great crowd and I wanted them to embrace it and use that to their advantage, and I think for the most part, they did that," Schmidt said. "The fans are what make college tennis so special. It was a really fun environment for both teams to play in. We'd love to have that at some of our future matches. I can't thank the Rice family for the way they came out today and supported us."
Dominique Harmath put the Owls on the board for the first time in three matches against the Cardinal, rebounding for a 6-0 loss in the second set to win her 10-point deciding frame. Harmath has seen each of her last three matches extended to three sets and won for the second time in that span, taking a 10-5 decision over Krista Hardebeck.
"Dominique showed a ton of fight today," Schmidt said. "What she did well was she played her game. She was able to rebound and erase a bad second set. I'm really proud of her as a senior for that effort.
"I lost my momentum from the first set, but I seemed to get it back at the end of the second set and that carried over to the tiebreaker," Harmath said. "We believed we could win this match today and we had our chances. I was extremely impressed with the fight everyone showed. We know we are good and we know we can do great things."
Stanford clinched the team result with a win on court 3, but the final two matches would be sent to third sets. Freshman Katherine Ip bounced back from a first set loss to pick up her first win against a ranked opponent, defeating #94 Ellen Tsay 2-6, 7-5 (7-4), 10-4, cutting the lead to 4-2 and turning all the crowd's attention to a nail-bitter on the stadium court between Natalie Beazant and sixth-ranked Kristie Ahn of Stanford.
The two All-Americans traded tie break wins in the opening sets, with Beazant storming back from 5-4 down in the first set and Ahn rallying from being down 5-2 in the second. Ahn ended the match with a 10-3 win in the decisive tiebreaker.
"That was two college players playing tennis at the highest level," Schmidt said. "You have to give Kristie Ahn credit for stepping up when her back was against the wall and coming up with some really good shots. I think Natalie got a little nervous (late in the second set), but I will take a player like Natalie every time because you know how much she cares. Everybody who came out here today knows how much she cares. She's won a ton of big matches. Every week she goes out there and is in a match with one of the top players in the country. She's one of the top players in the country. She's going to go out there again next week had fight her heart out and there are a lot of great things ahead for her," Schmidt added.
The win gave Stanford a sweep of matches in Texas over the weekend, and while the Owls were able to notch a pair of points against the #1 team in the country, Schmidt hopes to see the result spur the Owls on to greater success over the next three months of the dual season.
"At the end of the day, it's nice to be able to put a couple points on the board, but we didn't win the match," Schmidt said. "You want to go out and be competitive in every match, but the bottom line is we also want to win. We can take some positives from this, but I hope it makes us hungrier, so we can put seven points on the board."
The Owls will be back on the court against another highly ranked opponent next weekend when they travel to Waco to take on #19 Baylor.
Tennis Match Results
Stanford vs Rice
2/1/2014 at Houston, TX
(Jake Hess Tennis Stadium)
1 Stanford 5, #22 Rice 2
1. #6 Kristie Ahn (STANFORD) def. Natalie Beazant (RICE) 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (8-6), 10-3
2. Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Krista Hardebeck (STANFORD) 6-2, 2-6, 10-5
3. #40 Carol Zhao (STANFORD) def. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) 7-6, 6-1
4. #34 Caroline Doyle (STANFORD) def. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 6-2, 6-4
5. Katherine Ip (RICE) def. #94 Ellen Tsay (STANFORD) 2-6, 7-5 (7-4), 10-4
6. #41 Taylor Davidson (STANFORD) def. Alison Ho (RICE) 6-1, 6-4
1. #15 Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao (STANFORD) def. Natalie Beazant/Dominique Harmath (RICE) 6-3
2. #16 Taylor Davidson/Ellen Tsay (STANFORD) def. Liat Zimmermann/Katherine Ip (RICE) 6-1
3. Alison Ho/Solomiya Zinko (RICE) vs. Caroline Doyle/Krista Hardebeck (STANFORD) 5-1, unfinished
Match Notes: Stanford 4-0; National ranking #1 Rice 2-2; National ranking #22 Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (4,6,2,3,5,1) T-3:05 A-650