by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Wendy Zhang outlasted Cloe Hule of Colorado with a service break in their 38th game of singles to provide the decisive point in a 4-3 win for the Owls at the Rocky Mountain Tennis Complex on Tuesday.
The win snapped a four-match losing streak for the Owls (7-6) and gave them split of their Spring Break trip to the foothills of the Rockies.
"What a gutsy team effort," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "There was a ton of heart and fight out there and it was great to see how our team stepped it up when the going got tough."
Zhang and doubles partner Lindsey Hodge opened their day of work in rapid fashion, winning their doubles set by a 6-1 margin. But the Buffs came back to take the doubles point with a tiebreak win on court two, the first of five tiebreak sets in a match that would extend to nearly five hours.
Colorado increased the pressure on the Owls by winning five of six first sets in singles, three of them in tiebreakers.
Sophomore Priya Niezgoda shook off the dissapointment from the tiebreaker loss in doubles to quickly draw the Owls even with a straight set win on court six and Anna Bowtell delivered a stunning reversal on court five. The freshman rebounded from a 6-4 loss in the opening set to win the next 12 games and give the Owls the lead.
Colorado stormed back to take a 3-2 lead with wins on courts three and four, but Hodge evened the match with a three-set win on court one, turning things over to her doubles partner on court two.
Zhang dropped a tiebreak in the first and fell behind 3-0 in the second set before rallying to force the day's fifth tiebreaker. Rice had dropped the previous four tiebreaks, but Zhang kept the Owls hopes alive by winning and sending the match to a third set and fifth hour of action.
Zhang and Hule remained on serve through the first 10 games of the deciding set before Zhang broke at 6-5, then served out to send the happy Owls scurrying to the airport to catch their flight home to Houston.
The Owls will be back on the court on Friday when they host UTRGV at the George R. Brown Tennis Center at 11 a.m.
Rice vs Colorado
3/13/2018 at Boulder, CO
(Rocky Mountain Tennis Complex)
Rice 4, Colorado 3
1. Lindsey Hodge (RICEW) def. Huang, Linda (COLO) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
2. Wendy Zhang (RICEW) def. Hule, Chloe (COLO) 6-7, 7-6, 7-5
3. Daniel, Jeannez (COLO) def. Michaela Haet (RICEW) 7-6, 6-0
4. Ronaldson, Louise (COLO) def. Savannah Durkin (RICEW) 7-6, 6-2
5. Anna Bowtell (RICEW) def. Wojcik, Kyra (COLO) 4-6, 6-0, 6-0
6. Priya Niezgoda (RICEW) def. Beck, Brigitte (COLO) 6-1, 6-3
1. #24 Lindsey Hodge/Wendy Zhang (RICEW) def. Hule, Chloe/Beck, Brigitte (COLO) 6-1
2. Daniel, Jeannez/Oleynik, Ilana (COLO) def. Fernanda Astete/Priya Niezgoda (RICEW) 7-6 (11-9)
3. Ronaldson, Louise/Wojcik, Kyra (COLO) def. Savannah Durkin/Michaela Haet (RICEW) 7-5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,5,3,4,1,2)