Perfection, unlike success, is an easy concept for any sports team to measure. The feat of going 7-0 in a collegiate tennis match is every squad's paradigm of flawless play. This past weekend, the women's tennis team achieved a 7-0 victory twice, first against Lamar University (0-2) on Friday and then over the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (0-1).
The Cardinals made the trek from Beaumont, TX to Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Friday morning, but hopefully left the bus running as the match was a short-lived affair.
The doubles' contests began with senior Ana Guzman and junior Katie Gater dispatching Lamar's Alicia Porte and Carolina Maso with a score of 8-3; junior Daniela Trigo and sophomore Kimberly Anicete won their match by the same margin to give Rice a 1-0 lead. While their match was irrelevant after Rice clinched the doubles' point, sophomore Domnique Harmath and freshman Natalie Beazant were impressive in holding off the Cardinals' Carolina Salas and Natalia Mayagoitia, 8-6.
With Rice riding high off its doubles domination, Beazant continued the charge for Rice, beating Porte 6-1, 6-4. Gater and Anicete followed up to clinch the third and fourth points for the Owls, defeating Mayagoitia and Alessandra Pennesi, respectively, both in two sets. Harmath held off Salas and the duo of Guzman and Nguyen also won their matches in two sets to ensure that Rice walked away with a 7-0 victory and won all 15 sets in the dual match.
The Ragin' Cajuns had to wait a few extra hours on Saturday to receive their beating at the hands of Rice, as late morning rain delayed the match by three hours. Finally, at 2 p.m., the doubles' teams took the court, with Beazant and Harmath defeating Briggit Marcovich and Sophie van der Aarssen, 8-1 in the top-seeded doubles match. Not long after, Guzman and Gater rolled past Louisiana-Lafayette's Erin Wilbert and Milou Israel 8-3 to secure the doubles' point for the Blue and Gray. The third-seeded match, while irrelevant since the Owls had clinched the doubles' point, was won by the Ragin' Cajuns' Sandra Ahlqvist and Hannah Appleyard who defeated Rice's Trigo and Anicete.
The singles' matches were all Rice with Harmath defeating Marcovich in the top-seeded match in two easy sets 6-0, 6-1 to put Rice up 2-0. Tara Vasovic was no match for Rice freshman Stephanie Nguyen, as Nguyen defeated Vasovic 6-1, 6-0. The clinching point for Rice was won when Gater won a hard fought second set against Israel 6-4 to sweep the match and win it for the Owls. Despite the meaningless nature of the rest of the matches, Guzman and Beazant won both of their matches in two sets apiece, while Anicete rallied from one set down to win the third set 10-7 in tiebreaker points. Head Coach Elizabeth Schmidt commented on Anicete's performance in both of her matches.
"Kim was a warrior today," Schmidt said. "She had a rough doubles match and they dropped the first set, but she really turned it around and that was a great way to end the day."
Despite the downpour of rain, it was also clear to Schmidt that neither the Owls' preparation or mindset was not altered by the extreme weather.
"The team really handled the situation well," Schmidt said. "There was a time when we were looking at alternative sites to move the match, so they were not sure of when nor where they would be playing. But they had great focus once the match began."
Rice takes on Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi tomorrow in Corpus Christi, TX. The Islanders played their first match of the season yesterday against Prairie View A&M University.