Rice University women’s tennis had a successful run this past weekend at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic but lost 4-3 to the University of Alabama in the championship match. 

Rice University women’s tennis had a successful run this past weekend at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic but lost 4-3 to the University of Alabama in the championship match. The Blue Gray National Tennis Classic has a long history as an individual and team competition, but it did not include a women’s competition until 2011. Rice faced three top-30 teams in Montgomery, Ala.

On Friday, Rice beat No. 29 Oklahoma State University 4-3. The Owls, ranked No. 24, faced Auburn University on Saturday, Feb. 22 and pulled off a 4-2 win. Rice lost in the doubles against Auburn but pulled through in the singles, taking four of the five decided matches. In the finals, Rice played No. 14 Alabama on Sunday, Feb. 23. The match lasted nearly four hours, and despite her best efforts, junior Natalie Beazant lost to Alabama’s Mary Anne Daines in the match-deciding tiebreaker.

Head Coach Elizabeth Schmidt said the Owls were honored to attend the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic despite their loss in the final round. She said the team was able to be part of an esteemed competition and faced talented opponents.

“It was an honor to be invited to play in this event,” Schmidt said. “While the women’s competition is relatively new, the event has a long history. It’s a very deep field.”

Schmidt also expressed pride in Rice’s strong performance against teams that were ranked higher in the national polls. She said she was especially impressed by Rice’s success in singles play.

“It was another extremely gutsy performance by our whole team,” Schmidt said. “The way our team has responded in singles in the last two days has been remarkable. The heart and fight from start to finish was awesome, and we needed every ounce of that.”

Schmidt said she was pleased with the team’s grit and determined style of play over the weekend. She believes her team will never stop fighting.

“We are extremely proud of the resilience and fight that our team showed,” Schmidt said.

Rice will have the chance to improve its record this weekend at home. On Saturday, March 1, Rice will play New Mexico State University at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium, followed by the Owls’ Conference USA opener Sunday, March 2 against the University of Tulsa. NMSU has a current record of 4-4, while Tulsa is ranked No. 23 with a record of 9-1.

Rice’s current record is 5-4, and Schmidt said the team looks to improve its play and maintain momentum. She said the upcoming matches are Rice’s chance to tip its record in its favor, and the team is excited to return to the court for more matches.

“We are looking forward to getting back out there,” Schmidt said.