May 2, 2012
One day after learning their efforts had earned their team its first bid the NCAA Women's Tennis Championship since 2006, Rice's Natalie Beazant and Dominique Harmath learned on Wednesday that they have qualified for the NCAA Championships as individuals.
Beazant and Harmath are the first women's doubles team from Rice to qualify for the NCAA Doubles Championship since Sarah Borwell and Vessie Ivanova in 1998. They earned Conference USA's automatic qualifying spot in doubles after compiling an 18-4 record and a current ranking of 32nd in the country. The Owls top doubles pair closed the season strongly, winning nine of the last 10 matches, including a perfect 3-0 record during the Conference USA Championship. The duo swept through postseason play by scores of 8-3, 8-4, 8-4.
Their national ranking of 32nd matches Paula Myslivecek and Antonette Veloso (1995) for the second highest doubles ranking in school history (Lori Cronk & Wendy Wood finished 1986 ranked 24th).
Despite a sterling 23-1 record in her freshman year, including a 20-1 mark at No. 1, Beazant had to earn a spot in singles through the at-large bids, since she was ranked five spots behind Memphis' Courtney Collins, who is currently 34th in the nation. Beazant is the Owls first singles qualifier since current Owls volunteer assistant Blair (DiSesa) Henley in 2006.
Beazant will take a 15-match winning streak into the NCAA team event next weekend against Illinois. She has a 7-1 mark this season against ranked opponents with her only loss coming against current #8 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar of Texas A&M in three sets. She is currently ranked 39th, the highest ranking by an Owl in singles since Wendy Wood was ranked 13th at the end of the 1986 season. No Owl has ranked higher than 71st (Antonette Veloso in 1992) since that time.
NCAA singles and doubles competition will be held from May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia