The Rice University women's tennis team started its 2014 season with a 7-0 win over Lamar University on Saturday. The team quickly gained the doubles point to take an early 1-0 advantage. In singles play, the Owls won five of the six matches in straight sets to secure the win. With this victory under their belts, the Rice Owls head to Austin this weekend for the Indoor Tennis Association kickoff weekend. They will face Florida State University on Saturday, Jan. 25 and either the University of Texas, Austin or Auburn University on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Head Coach Elizabeth Schmidt said she was happy with the results on Saturday. She said it was an ideal way to start the season.
"I'm really proud of the team for the match today," Schmidt said. "I thought we came out and set the tone."
Schmidt said she was especially satisfied that the Owls exemplified determination and fight, qualities which Lamar admired.
"I was really pleased," Schmidt said. "In the middle of the match, the [Lamar] coach came up to me and said, 'Your team has a lot of fight.' A compliment like that from another coach says a lot about your team, and that's definitely what I wanted to see from our team today."
Freshmen Alison Ho and Katherine Ip both gained their first dual match win Saturday. Schmidt said she was excited that the freshmen made such a positive impact right away.
"That's a great feat that we'll remember forever," Schmidt said. "[Ho and Ip] are a great addition to our team, and we're really happy that they were able to come through and really get their feet wet [with their first] dual match experience."
Junior Natalie Beazant said the season is off to a good start.
"It was good to get back out and get some match play," Beazant said. "We have a great atmosphere here with all of the fans."
Beazant said one of the major changes for her this season is adjusting to the new scoring rules. This year, it only takes six games to win at doubles (compared to eight last year) and players are only given 10 minutes in between doubles and singles matches. Beazant said the team must adjust to this shortening of matches.
"There's six games, so you could literally blink and it's over with," Beazant said. "It's important to get out there and start really fast, get a good warm-up and make sure your head's in the right place."
The team now looks forward to the ITA kickoff. Schmidt said she anticipates tough competition against Florida State, UT and Auburn. She said last weekend's match against Lamar has prepared the team well.
"I think we have one of the toughest kickoff regions in the country," Schmidt said. "We're excited about that because we've got three other great teams in there. It's going to be a really exciting weekend of tennis, so I'm glad we were able to get a tough match in to start the season. Lamar pushed us in spots and made us earn it, and that's what we're going to have to do next weekend as well: go out there and earn it."