Jan. 17, 2013
Elizabeth Schmidt's 29th ranked Rice women's tennis team will open their 2013 dual campaign on Friday when they host the Lamar Cardinals at 1 p.m. at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on the Rice campus in the first of two matches to kick off the 2013 season. They will host Texas Pan American on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Owls return five of six starters from their 2012 lineup that saw the team win matches in the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history, upsetting #18 Illinois in the first round of the Oxford Regional and then rallying to dispatch host and No. 16 Ole Miss to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships in Athens, Georgia.
After reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history and opening with a top 30 ranking, Schmidt's Owls spent the fall preparing for the spring dual campaign and are ready for the season to commence.
"There definitely is a bounce in their step and they're ready to go," Schmidt said. "Everyone came back from the winter break very focused and on the right track. They work hard and always have their focus on the next match and that is what they have done these last two weeks."
Rice returns a pair of NCAA qualifiers from last year in addition to welcoming a third who transferred to Rice.
Natalie Beazant, the Conference USA Player of the Year as sophomore, posted the school's first win in NCAA singles play since 1986 and opens the season ranked 50th in singles. She teamed with Dominique Harmath to post the Owls first win in NCAA doubles in school history last year and open the season ranked 56th. Sophomore Liat Zimmerman qualified in doubles in 2012 while playing at Miami.
After the opening two matches at home, the Owls will be on the road next weekend for the ITA Kickoff Weekend. They will face 22nd ranked Texas Tech in the opening round on January 26, which will be played at the Hurd Tennis Center on the campus of Baylor University. The other opening round match will feature the 15th ranked hosts and 38th ranked Florida State.