May 10, 2014
Showing the same gritty determination that has been a trademark all season, the 20th ranked Rice women's tennis team battled for nearly four hours but could not overcome 14th ranked Baylor's fast start, dropping a 4-1 decision at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco on Saturday night.
"We fought our hearts out, but you have to give Baylor credit because they made the shots when they counted," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "It was a great college tennis match and it was what you should expect when you are playing in the NCAA Championship."
The Owls (18-7) were hoping to build on the momentum from their two earlier matches against the Bears (26-6) which had seen them improve from a 6-1 loss in February to a 4-3 defeat in April and earn their second berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 in the last three years.
After the two squads split the matches on courts one and two in doubles, the Bears captured the first point of the match on court three where they were able to fend off a furious Rice rally after building an early 4-0 lead.
Armed with a 1-0 lead, the Bears blasted from the gates in singles, winning the first sets on courts four, five and six by 6-1 margins. They moved out to a 3-0 lead by carrying their momentum on courts four and six through the second set, but on court five, Kim Anicete breathed life into the Owls fleeting hopes of continuing the season by fighting off a pair of match points to win a tiebreak and force a third set.
At the top of the lineup, the Owls won first sets by Natalie Beazant and Katherine Ip on courts one and three, while Dominique Harmath fought through an extended first set battle with Baylor's Ema Burgic.
In the Owls 4-3 loss to Baylor at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium in April, the deciding point was a three set loss by Ip to Baylor's Jordaan Sanford. But Ip returned the favor with a 6-4, 6-4 win over the 46th ranked Sanford, snapping the Baylor senior's 16-match winning streak to close the gap to 3-1.
However while Anicete was grinding into a third set and Beazant and Baylor's 40th ranked Kiah Generette were doing the same, Burgic was able to fend off on final charge by Harmath and clinch the match for Baylor.
The loss end brings an end to the careers of Anicete and Harmath, who both moved into the top six on the Rice career win list. But Schmidt said the two seniors impact on the program extends far beyond their nearly 200 wins in singles they compiled in four seasons.
"I really can't say enough about what both of them mean to this program and to the success we have enjoyed over their four years here. They've been leaders and they've been tireless fighters who have been responsible for so many great wins. I am so proud of both of them and I know we will really miss them," Schmidt stated.
Tennis Match Results
Rice vs Baylor
5/10/2014 at Waco, Texas
(Hurd Tennis Center)
#13 Baylor 4, #20 Rice 1
1. #40 Kiah Generette (BAYLOR) vs. Natalie Beazant (RICE) 2-6, 6-0, unfinished
2. #81 Ema Burgic (BAYLOR) def. #101 Dominique Harmath (RICE) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
3. #114 Katherine Ip (RICE) def. #46 Jordaan Sanford (BAYLOR) 6-4, 6-4
4. Blair Shankle (BAYLOR) def. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) 6-1, 6-2
5. Alex Leatu (BAYLOR) vs. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), unfinished
6. Alex Clay (BAYLOR) def. Alison Ho (RICE) 6-1, 6-3
1. #54 Natalie Beazant/Liat Zimmermann (RICE) def. Victoria Kisialeva/Jordaan Sanford (BAYLOR) 8-3
2. Ema Burgic/Kiah Generette (BAYLOR) def. Alison Ho/Dominique Harmath (RICE) 8-3
3. #84 Blair Shankle/Alex Clay (BAYLOR) def. Solomiya Zinko/Katherine Ip (RICE) 8-6
Rice 18-7; National ranking #20
Baylor 26-6; National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,4,3,2)