March 1, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas - Coming off a runner-up finish in the prestigious Blue-Gray Collegiate Classic last weekend and with a showdown with No. 17 nationally ranked Tulsa looming tomorrow, the No. 21 ranked Rice Owls maintained its focus and defeated New Mexico State 5-2 Saturday afternoon at Jake Hess Stadium.
The Owls upped their record to 6-4 while New Mexico State dropped to 4-7.
"I thought we did what we needed to do today to secure the win," said Rice Head Coach Elizabeth Schmidt. "I was very pleased that we won all three doubles match which needs to be a focus for us tomorrow against Tulsa."
Not only did the Owls win all three doubles matches, they did so in dominant fashion as all three matches ended up 8-2. Seniors Dominique Harmath and Kim Anicete were matched together for the first time this season at No. 2 and defeated Denise Van Der Ben and Susana Alcaraz. Natalie Beazant and Liat Zimmerman fell behind early but rebounded to beat Brittany Collens and Chloe Jolliff while freshman Alison Ho and Solomiya Zinko defeated Annemieke Witte and Ashvaraya Shrivastava.
Schmidt shuffled her singles lineup when she opted to rest Beazant, who broke into the ITA rankings on Tuesday at No. 72, at No. 1 singles. As a result, Harmath (#1), No. 74 Katherine Ip (#2), Zimmerman (#3), Anicete (#4) and Ho (#5) all moved up one position while junior Stephanie Nguyen was inserted in the lineup at No. 6.
After New Mexico State tied the match 1-1, Ip and Zimmerman seized control of the match for the Owls with dominant straight set wins. Zimmerman, who notched her fifth consecutive win on Saturday, blanked Van Der Ben 6-0, 6-0 while Ip won her first set against Jolliff by an identical 6-0 score before closing out her match with a 6-2 second set victory. Rice's other two singles wins came via straight sets - Harmath defeated Alcaraz 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1 while Ho handled the move up to the No. 5 spot with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Witte.
"It was nice to see everyone step a spot in singles and come through," said Schmidt.
This afternoon's win sets the stage for tomorrow's contest vs. Tulsa, which matches two teams ranked in the Top 25 and the perennial contenders for the Conference USA title. The last time the two teams squared off, the Owls claimed the Conference USA championship.
"Tomorrow's match with Tulsa is going to be a great college tennis match," added Schmidt. "Tulsa is an excellent team. They play aggressive doubles and they make you work for everything you get. We are very much looking forward to the challenge.
The Rice-Tulsa match is slated for *11 a.m.* tomorrow at Jake Hess Stadium. Please note the new start time of 11 a.m.
Tennis Match Results
New Mexico State vs Rice
3/1/2014 at Houston,TX
(Jake Hess Tennis Stadium)
#21 Rice 5, New Mexico State 2
1. Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Susana Alcaraz (NMSU) 6-4, 6-2
2. #74 Katherine Ip (RICE) def. Chloe Jolliff (NMSU) 6-0, 6-2
3. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) def. Denise Van Der Ben (NMSU) 6-0, 6-0
4. Ashvarya Shrivastava (NMSU) def. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
5. Alison Ho (RICE) def. Annemieke Witte (NMSU) 6-2, 6-3
6. Brittany Collens (NMSU) def. Stephanie Nguyen (RICE) 5-2, retired
1. Liat Zimmermann/Natalie Beazant (RICE) def. Brittany Collens/Chloe Jolliff (NMSU) 8-2
2. Dominique Harmath/Kimberly Anicete (RICE) def. Denise Van Der Ben/Susana Alcaraz (NMSU) 8-2
3. Alison Ho/Solomiya Zinko (RICE) def. Annemieke Witte/Ashvarya Shrivastava (NMSU) 8-2
New Mexico State 4-7
Rice 6-4; National ranking #21
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (6,2,3,5,1,4)