Rice’s No. 40 men’s tennis team faced a tall task going into its weekend match against No. 9 Texas Tech University. After one of their closest matches of the season, the Owls emerged with a 4-3 win to claim the Rice Invitational title. The win marked Rice’s first win over a top-10 opponent in its last 13 tries.
The match began with three one-set doubles matches to determine the winner of the doubles point. After the Red Raiders claimed the first match, the Owls’ third doubles team rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take their set 7-5. The final doubles set, which determined the winner of the doubles point, went to a tiebreaker tied at 6-6. Rice senior Adam Gustafsson and sophomore Jamie Malik faced set point down 3-6 in the tiebreak before rallying and gritting out a long 14-12 victory to claim the doubles point for the Owls. The duo saved six match points during the tiebreak to claim the crucial point for Rice.
Rice maintained its momentum from the doubles point in the singles matches. Despite a loss on the top court, the Owls managed to take two of the first three singles matches to push their lead to 3-1 behind winning performances by junior David Warren and freshman Emmanuel Llamas. Though Texas Tech managed to win the next two matches to tie the match at 3-3, freshman Jake Hansen gutted out a three-set victory after losing the first set 2-6 to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 and clinch the victory for the Owls. Texas Tech is the highest ranked team Rice has beaten this season. The Owls now sit at 17-5 on the season as they head into an April 1 match against Texas Christian University.