As the rain poured down at the Midlands Racquet Club, the Rice University men’s tennis team played in their first tournament of the fall season, which did not count toward the team’s overall record. Team play will begin in the spring semester.
Despite inclement weather conditions that shortened the tournament, Head Coach Efe Ustundag said he was pleased with the team’s performance this weekend.
“Unfortunately, weather had a lot to do with the tournament,” Ustundag said. “A lot of the matches were shortened or cancelled, but, being our first tournament, we started off on the right foot.”
Sophomore Max Andrews and junior Adam Gustafsson finished the highest individually in the tournament, with Andrews losing in the semifinals and Gustafsson losing in the quarterfinals.
While Andrews and Gustafsson performed well in Midlands, Ustundag said he is still seeking improvement from other players.
“Zach [Yablon], Henrik [Munch] and Gustavo Gonzalez all got some match play, but they didn’t necessarily play at their best level,” Ustundag said.
The team is now looking forward to the rest of their season, beginning with the Rice Fall Invitational this weekend, in which every player, aside from injured sophomore Tommy Bennett, will participate. Ustundag said he is anticipating hosting the tournament.
“We have a pretty big tournament going on this weekend at Rice,” Ustundag said. “Several schools from around Texas and the rest of the country will be here. It is going to be a nice home tournament for us.”
The tournament this weekend will also feature the debut of part of the newly built George R. Brown Tennis Center. The construction of the center was delayed over the summer due to weather but will be ready in a few weeks. However, the six stadium courts and locker rooms are ready to use for the tournament this weekend.
Ustundag, in his third year as head coach, said he is excited about the possibilities the new courts bring for his team.
“It is going to change the face of our program,” Ustundag said. “It is going to give us an unbelievable boost in fan experience, and it’s a great edge for the program in recruiting.”
Ustundag also said with the new facilities come higher expectations for the team.
“We can put our facilities against the best in the country,” Ustundag said. “It raises our expectations, but it’s a welcome challenge.”