April 19, 2014
The Rice women's tennis team needed less than 90 minutes to earn a berth in their third consecutive C-USA Championship title showdown with Tulsa, downing North Texas 4-0 at the Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday.
The Owls (16-6) and Golden Hurricane (17-4), who have split the last two C-USA title matches, will meet for the last time as conference rivals on Sunday at 9 a.m. (central) to decide the 2014 champion.
This will mark the fifth consecutive year the two schools have meet during the C-USA Championship and third consecutive matchup in the championship match. Tulsa holds a 13-4 advantage in the overall series, including a 4-1 win earlier this season at Jake Hess.
Owls head coach Elizabeth Schmidt knows her team will be ready for the latest chapter in the series.
"We have a great deal of respect for the Tulsa program," Schmidt said. "Our teams know each other well. We didn't have one of our better matches when we met in March, but all the credit goes to Tulsa because played very well that day. We know it will be a battle tomorrow."
Rice breezed into the finals on the strength of a second consecutive 4-0 win which was played indoors because of threatening weather and opened with singles. In much the same fashion as they had done against Old Dominion on Friday, the Owls first four singles lines made an immediate statement, negating the need for their final two singles players to get deep into their matches.
"I thought we came out from the first point and really played solid tennis. We played disciplined, we played focused and took care of business." Schmidt said. "We knew North Texas was a great team and we've had some battles with them in the past. I thought we did a nice job of not letting them get in the match."
Rice swept the first sets, losing just four games in the process. Freshman Katherine Ip raced to a 6-0,, 6-0 win to post the first point. Ip has lost just three games in her first four sets at the C-USA tournament to raise her season record to 15-4.
Dominique Harmath and Natalie Beazant followed close behind to make it 3-0 Rice and Liat Zimmernann closed it out with a 6-1, 6-3 win to send the Owls to the final.
"I've been really pleased with our approach in the first two matches," Schmidt said. " We've kept the focus on the present and not gotten caught looking ahead. "
Harmath's win was her 13th in her last 14 matches and the 94th of her Rice career.
Tennis Match Results
North Texas vs Rice
4/19/2014 at Norfolk, Va.
(Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center)
#29 Rice 4, #64 North Texas 0
1. Natalie Beazant (RICE) def. Kseniya Bardabush (NT) 6-3, 6-0
2. #101 Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Anastasiya Shestakov (NT) 6-0, 6-2
3. #91 Katherine Ip (RICE) def. Kamilla Galieva (NT) 6-0, 6-0
4. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) def. Agustina Valenzuela (NT) 6-1, 6-3
5. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) vs. Alexis Thoma (NT) 1-0, unfinished
6. Alison Ho (RICE) vs. Franziska Sprinkmeye (NT) unfinished
1. Kseniya Bardabush/Franziska Sprinkmeye (NT) vs. #49 Natalie Beazant/Liat Zimmermann (RICE) no result
2. Anastasiya Shestakov/Alexis Thoma (NT) vs. Alison Ho/Dominique Harmath (RICE) no result
3. Agustina Valenzuela/Danè Joubert (NT) vs. Solomiya Zinko/Katherine Ip (RICE) no result
North Texas 11-11; National ranking #64
Rice 16-6; National ranking #29
Order of finish: Doubles (); Singles (3,2,1,4)