by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
From the moment she took over as the head coach of the Rice women's tennis team in 2008, Elizabeth Schmidt's message has remained the same..."Focus on the next match".
The unwavering consistency of that message has generated an unprecedented run of success, as in 2016 her Owls became the first team in Conference USA history to win four consecutive championships as earn a fift consecutive trip to the Round of 32 at the NCAA Championships.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that on the eve beginning the pursuit of a fifth straight C-USA title, Schmidt and her Owls are only concerned about facing the UTSA Roadrunners at 10 on Friday morning at the Waranch Tennis Complex in Denton, Texas.
"We keep our focus small and focus on the match ahead of us," Schmidt said. "I believe you do things a certain way and you keep doing them that way. This is about the process of getting better every day and be the best player we can be every day, learning from the things that go well and learning from our mistakes. I think if we keep doing that we will continue to grow and improve. We've been training and preparing for our next opponent and tomorrow, it's UTSA."
Rice defeated the Roadrunners 6-1 at the George R. Brown Tennis Center in February and hold an 18-0 all-time lead in the series. But Schmidt only sees a team who features a nationally-ranked player (Rosell Canuda ) at the top of the lineup and fought off a strong challenge from Southern Miss to take a 4-2 win on Thursday.
"You saw today there were a ton of close matches in the first round," Schmidt said. "We are all here for a reason. There was a lot of good tennis today and I'm expecting a good battle tomorrow. Tomorrow is another opportunity to get out there and represent Rice and go after it."