May 4, 2012
Natalie Beazant and Dominique Harmath led the way as the Rice women's tennis team dominated the announce Conference USA postseason awards which were announced on Friday.
Beazant became the fifth player in history to win both the C-USA Women's Tennis Player of the Year award as well as the Freshman of the Year. She was also honored as the Outstanding Singles Player of the C-USA Championship in addition to earning first team All C-USA honors. Harmath was also named to the All C-USA first team in singles and the pair were honored as the Outstanding Doubles Team of the C-USA Championship in addition to earning first team All C-USA honors in doubles.
Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt was named C-USA Co-Coach of the Year, sharing the award with Dean Orford of Tulsa. Schmidt led the Owls to a career best 16 wins this season and a berth in the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2006.
Katie Gater and Kimberly Anicete were named to the All C-USA singles third team.
Beazant will take a 23-1 record in NCAA action, including a 20-1 mark at No. 1. She has a 15-match winning streak and is 7-1 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.
Beazant and Harmath 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.
Beazant is the first Rice player to win the Player of the Year honor since Blair DeSesa in 2006 and the first to capture the freshman honor since Julie Chao
in 2007. She is the first Owl to win the championship singles honor since Alanna Rodgers
in 2006, while Beazant and Harmath are the first Rice duo to win the doubles honor.
Rice opens play in the NCAA Championships on Friday, May 11 when they face Illinois in the first round of the Oxford Regional at the University of Mississippi. Beazant and Harmath have qualified for the NCAA Championships in doubles, while Beazant has also qualified in singles. NCAA singles and doubles competition will be held from May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia