Tennis finally loses in Lady Raider Shootout
Perfection cannot last forever, and the women's tennis team knew its dream start would have to end sometime. After a thorough domination of its first six opponents, including a breezy win over Florida International University on Saturday, the Owls dropped their first match of the year to 42nd ranked Texas Tech University in a gut-wrenching 4-2 defeat.
Over the weekend, Rice participated in the Lady Raider Shootout in Lubbock where Texas Tech University, Florida International University, Santa Clara University, and New Mexico State University also took part. To get to the Red Raiders, the Owls had to get past FIU first. The Panthers were 1-6 going into the match, but their record was not representative of their true talent as it had already played five ranked opponents in the young season.
The Owls came out swinging first as they took the all-important doubles point, 1-0. Freshman sensation Natalie Beazant and sophomore Dominique Harmath came out victorious on court one 8-4, while sophomore Kimberly Anicete and freshman Stephanie Nguyen finished their match in a hurry on court three where they won 8-2. Rice took off and never looked back in the rearview mirror as it soared high in the sky and dismissed FIU with a score of 4-1. Beazant, senior Ana Guzman and Anicete recorded wins for the Owls to propel them to the victory and to increase their winning streak to six straight matches.
With FIU out of the way, Rice was ready for the real challenge of the weekend, a match with Texas Tech on its home court. The Owls had already had an encounter with the Red Raiders before as they played against them in Orlando, Fla. for the University of Central Florida invitational earlier in the season. Beazant and Harmath were hoping to rekindle some of their Orlando magic as they upset 45th-ranked doubles pairing Texas Tech sophomore Samantha Adams and freshman Kenna Kilgo. This time around, Texas Tech got its revenge as Beazant and Harmath fell 8-4. The Red Raiders rounded up the Owls and took the doubles point as Guzman and junior Katie Gater along with Nguyen and sophomore Leah Fried dropped their respective matches.
With the Red Raiders taking a 1-0 lead, the Owls were in a hole and were not able to crawl out. Even with two strong victories from Beazant and Harmath, the Owls were not able to mount a comeback, and just like that, the winning streak was over at six with a 4-2 loss.
Even with the loss, Beazant keeps on rolling, as she has not dropped a singles match all season with a 10-0 record to start her Rice career. For her efforts in the upset win at Louisiana State University and in the Lady Raider shootout, Beazant was named Conference USA player of the week. She is the first Owl to win the honor since Julie Chao (Will Rice '10) won it in Feb. 2010.
Beazant and the rest of the Owls hope to continue their success this weekend as they travel to Alabama for a two-match road trip. They play at the University of Alabama on Saturday and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sunday in the first conference match of the season.
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