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Women's tennis shines during three-match road swing

By Craig Broadman     4/3/17 8:35pm

No. 47 Rice women’s tennis went 3-0 to finish off its road trip last week to move to 12-5 on the season. With the conference tournament just 15 days away, the Owls recorded dominant victories over University of Texas, Arlington, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The Owls fell behind after dropping the doubles point against UT Arlington, but junior Wendy Zhang, sophomore Fernanda Astete, freshman Priya Niezgoda and senior Katherine Ip sealed the win with stellar performances. Zhang continued her strong season by winning 6-1, 6-1; Astete and Niezgoda both defeated their opponents 6-1 and 6-2; and No. 101 Ip won 6-2, 6-4. No. 98 junior Lindsey Hodge won her first set 7-6 (10-8), but her game did not finish as Rice wrapped up the match 4-1.

A Beer Bike matchup on Saturday featured an evenly ranked contest against No. 49 William and Mary, and Rice jumped out to the lead by taking the doubles point. Senior Allison Ho/Niezgoda lost 6-2 but No. 70 pair Hodge/Zhang won 7-6 (7-4) and Ip/junior Savannah Durkin won 6-2. In singles competition, Hodge won 6-3, 2-6, 1-0 (12-10); Ip won 6-0, 6-4; Zhang won 6-1, 6-3; Durkin won 6-1, 6-4 and Ho won 6-1, 6-4. Astete fell 6-1, 6-2, but it did not matter because the Owls won the match 6-1.

The Owls then traveled to Richmond to take on a shorthanded VCU Rams. VCU forfeited one of their doubles games, and Hodge/Zhang sealed the doubles point by winning 6-2. In singles play, Hodge and Ip were up a set, and Astete was down one, but Rice won a singles match by default, Zhang won 6-2, 6-1, and Ho won 6-4, 6-0 to record the final to points needed to sweep the Rams 4-0.

Hodge and Zhang continue to be a strong doubles pair, winning their last four matches to improve to 13-6. In singles play, Hodge and Durkin put together 19-12 and 17-7 records respectively, but Zhang and Ho lead the team with 22 wins apiece.

The Owls will finish their season with a three game home stand starting this Friday against the University of South Florida, who are 9-8 overall this season. Then, they will face Marshall University (12-8) and Louisiana Tech University (11-10) to finish the season. 

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