Feb. 20, 2014
The 24th ranked Rice women's tennis team will face off against 29th ranked Oklahoma State in the opening match of the 68th Blue-Gray Tennis National Classic on Friday in Montgomery, Alabama. The Owls and Cowgirls will kick off the women's competition at 9 a.m. on Friday at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center in Montgomery.
"It was an honor to be invited to play in this event," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "While the women's competition is relatively new, the event has a long history and I have always heard great things about the experience they provide for student-athletes. It's a very deep field and I know our team is excited for the chance to compete against so many other ranked teams."
Founded in 1949 by Jack Bushman, President of the Southern Lawn Tennis Association and former captain of the tennis team at Louisiana State, the Blue-Gray was held as an individual contest rather than a team event for the first 30 years, and featured some of the best college tennis players from around the country. In 1983, the tournament was reborn as a team event as it remains today. Through its history, the Blue Gray National Tennis Invite has hosted seven Grand Slam single finalists and over 30 Grand Slam doubles champions. The women's competition began in 2011, with Notre Dame capturing the first title. Virginia took the team title in both 2012 and 2013.
The Owls (3-3) have faced four top 30 teams in the early going this season, winning 4-3 over #30 Florida State and falling to #3 Stanford (5-2), #15 Baylor (6-1) and #17 Texas (4-1). Rice is seeded fourth this weekend and the winner of the Rice-OSU match will take on the winner of match between #19 Auburn and #75 Tulane. The top seed in the women's draw is #14 Alabama and the other side of the bracket includes #21 Texas Tech, #36 Yale and #42 Illinois.
Rice snapped a three-match losing streak on February 15 with a 7-0 blanking of McNeese State at Jake Hess tennis stadium and has an all-time record of 2-7 against Oklahoma State. The Owls took the last meeting between the two, winning 4-3 in the opening round of the 2011 ITA Kickoff Weekend in Waco, Texas.
Oklahoma State (3-3) has bounced back from three losses to open the season to win its last three contests, shutting out Arkansas, Minnesota and Oregon.
The Owls will return to Jake Hess next weekend for a pair of matches against New Mexico State (March 1, 11 a.m.) and #23 Tulsa (March 2, noon).