April 9, 2014
The Rice women's tennis team hoped to fashion one more memorable moment on the courts of Jake Hess Tennis Stadium, but 17th ranked Baylor held off the Owls' furious rally to take a 4-3 win in the penultimate dual match at their venerable home venue.
"That was a great college tennis match," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "Two top 25 teams battling it out late in the season and you expect a four-hour grind. Credit to Baylor today, we had them down in a couple sets but they stepped up and clawed back. In the end, Baylor just played a few points at the end better than we did."
The 21st ranked Owls (13-6), who had dropped a 6-1 decision to the Bears in Waco on February 8, were hoping to use their home court advantage to beat Baylor for the first time since 1995 when the two schools annually met as members of the Southwest Conference. Rice piled up a 12-3 series lead during their conference days, but Baylor had won four straight non-conference matchups coming into Wednesday. The meeting was the likely the last appearance by a ranked opponent on the Hess courts as the Owls will wind up their regular season on Sunday by hosting UTSA, followed by road action in the C-USA Championship as well as a berth in the NCAA field. They will move into the George R. Brown Tennis Center next fall.
Baylor grabbed the early lead with doubles wins on courts two and three, but wins by seniors Dominique Harmath and Kimberly Anicete and freshman Alison Ho in singles allowed the Owls to tie the match and send the final decision to a battle in the third spot in the lineup between Rice's Kahterine Ip and Baylor's Jordaan Sanford.
Ip battled back from a first set loss to take the second and force a match-deciding third set. The freshman from Hong Kong survived and early break before breaking back to tie the final set 3-3 before the 56th ranked Sanford stage her own rally to win the final three games and clinch the match.
"It was great for us to get a match like this late in the season," Schmidt said. "Obviously I would have loved to have won today, but I told our freshmen that this experience is what they can expect at the conference tournament and in the NCAA's from here on out."
Harmath and Anicete continued their march up the Rice career win chart with their wins on Wednesday. Harmath won her 11th consecutive singles match and the 92nd of her career, moving her into a tie for sixth with Blair DiSesa (2003-06), while Anicete's 7-6, 6-0 win over Alex Clay was her 95th career win, matching Jessica Gagnon (1993-97) for fourth all-time at Rice.
"I'm really proud of our seniors," Schmidt noted. "Dominique and Kim have played Baylor a few times and they really left it all out on the court."
Schmidt said the effort against the Bears was a solid indicator of the progress the Owls have made during the dual campaign and has them prepared to defend their C-USA title.
"I was proud of the team for the way we played Baylor this time compared to the first match this year," Schmidt noted. " We had a 6-1 pretty rough beating in Waco and today we had our opportunities to win this match. I thought we looked a lot more disciplined. Baylor is a very disciplined team. They're going to expose you if you aren't disciplined and that is what they did to us in February. I thought we did a lot better today and that is something we've been working on, and something we will continue to work on because we're closer by we still have a gap to fill. The bottom line is we have to continue to work and continue to get better."
Tennis Match Results
Baylor vs Rice
4/9/2014 at Houston, TX
(Jake Hess Tennis Stadium)
#17 Baylor 4, #21 Rice 3
1. #97 Ema Burgic (BAYLOR) def. #103 Natalie Beazant (RICE) 7-5, 6-4
2. #109 Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. #51 Kiah Generette (BAYLOR) 6-1, 6-4
3. #56 Jordaan Sanford (BAYLOR) def. #82 Katherine Ip (RICE) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
4. #116 Blair Shankle (BAYLOR) def. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) 6-1, 7-5
5. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) def. Alex Clay (BAYLOR) 7-6, 6-0
6. Alison Ho (RICE) def. Victoria Kisialeva (BAYLOR) 6-3, 6-1
1. #48 Natalie Beazant/Liat Zimmermann (RICE) vs. Victoria Kisialeva/Jordaan Sanford (BAYLOR) 7-7, unfinished
2. Ema Burgic/Kiah Generette (BAYLOR) def. Dominique Harmath/Alison Ho (RICE) 8-4
3. Alex Clay/Blair Shankle (BAYLOR) def. Solomiya Zinko/Katherine Ip (RICE) 8-6
Baylor 18-6; National ranking #17
Rice 13-6; National ranking #21
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (6,4,5,1,2,3)