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Women's tennis victorious

By Nicollete Chamberlain     3/21/13 7:00pm

After winning their sixth straight match Tuesday, the name of the game for the Rice University women's tennis team has been consistency. But the team has not just been winning its matches - the now 27th-ranked team has swept five of its last six opponents. The formula for success for the women's tennis team, according to Head Coach Elizabeth Schmidt, has been breaking down each match one point at a time.

"No matter what match it is, I think the most important things are for us to come out with a lot of energy, be disciplined with our returns and first serves, and be ready to work to earn every point," Schmidt said. 

The Owls took control of Western Michigan University on Sunday, March 17, not even allowing the Broncos a set in the 7-0 victory. On Tuesday, Rice added a second win to its growing streak after taking on Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. Despite Corpus Christi being the team's first weekday match, sophomore Natalie Beazant and junior Dominique Harmath came out with quick, two-set wins at first and second singles (6-2, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-2, respectively), as well as an 8-3 win at first doubles. Sophomore Liat Zimmermann earned the fourth win of the match 6-1, 6-3 to cap off the 4-0 win. 

These decisive and accumulating victories have been nothing new for the team. Beazant (No. 59 at first singles) won her eighth straight singles victory Tuesday, as well as her ninth straight doubles victory with Harmath. In addition, Zimmermann has six straight wins at No. 3 doubles. Ultimately, though, the team's recent success has been a result of a consistent teamwide performance.  

"I feel like, as a team, we have been playing solid, controlled tennis," Beazant said. "We have made sure to keep it consistent and play within ourselves."

However, the next two matches in line for the Owls will be a true test of their consistency. On Saturday, the team will take on No. 44 the College of William and Mary at 11 a.m. The following day, Rice will face No. 33 Texas Christian University. With contending records and similar rankings,  the Rice women's tennis team will require a full team effort against the competition in these matches. 

"Both William and Mary and TCU are solid opponents," Schmidt said. "They come in here with rankings that are similar to ours, so on paper, these should be great college tennis matches."

As the team moves forward with its 11-4 record, they will need to carry its momentum forward and stay focused on what challenges lie ahead in these final few matches of the regular season.

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