Owls Welcome Defending NCAA Champions to Jake Hess
First serves at noon
Jan. 31, 2014
The 22nd ranked Rice women's tennis team will have an early season opportunity to measure themselves against the toughest competition in the country when they host #1 Stanford at noon on Saturday at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium.
Prior to the match, the Owls and the WAAB are hosting a tailgate with free pizza and drinks in addition to free t-shirts for the first 100 fans, beginning at 11:30. All fans will also have the chance to enter a drawing for new flat screen television that will be announced at the conclusion of the doubles.
"We're excited to play the #1 team in the country in front of our home fans," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "It's fun for us and we hope it's fun for our fans, but our message stays the same no matter who we are playing. It's about focusing on what we do, playing Rice Tennis. I want them to go out and embrace the opportunity in front of them."
Saturday's match will wrap up a two-match swing through Texas for the Cardinal who took a 2-0 mark into a Friday afternoon match in Austin against 17th ranked Texas. The Longhorns handed Rice (2-1) its first loss of the year, 4-1 last Sunday in the ITA Kickoff Weekend regional in Austin. Rice opened play in Austin by downing #24 Florida State 4-3, snapping an eight-match losing streak against the Seminoles that dated back to 1992.
This will be the third time Rice and Stanford have met in dual action, with the Cardinal having won both previous matches. They met last year in the finals of the NCAA Regional in Palo Alto, with Stanford taking a 4-0 victory, the second five wins in the Cardinal's march the to the NCAA title. The two schools first met in 2003 in Palo Alto, with the Cardinal winning 7-0.
Stanford is the highest ranked women's team to play at Jake Hess since second-ranked Texas defeated the Owls 9-0 on February 26, 1995. Rice last faced the top-ranked team in the country when the Owls fell to UCLA in the round of 16 at the 2012 NCAA Championship.
The Cardinal feature a lineup that includes a pair of doubles teams ranked in the top 20 and four singles players ranked in the top 41, led by senior Kristie Ahn who opened the dual season ranked sixth.
"Obviously we have a ton of respect for Stanford. They are one of, if not the most storied programs in the history of women's college tennis," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "But at the end of the day you have to go out and play your game."