Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, March 02, 2024 — Houston, TX

Men’s tennis sweeps PVAMU

Senior Yasha Zemel hits the ball in a game over the weekend. The Owls swept Prairie View A&M University over the weekend to start their dual season with a 2-0 record. Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Cadan Hanson     1/16/24 10:08pm

Rice men’s tennis opened their 2024 season Saturday with a sweep of Prairie View A&M University at home. The Owls won both the morning and afternoon dual meet with a pair of 7-0 victories, starting their season 2-0. After the matches, head coach Efe Ustundag explained that the double-header was perfect in terms of results and preparation.

“I think this is exactly how we wanted today to go,” Ustundag said. “We changed some things around the second doubles just to give everybody a chance to try some things. This is one week into the season training and to see this kind of focus and effort was good. It gives us one more week to really build on the training last week.”

In the morning match, the Owls quickly jumped to a 1-0 lead after sweeping the doubles matches. Senior Yasha Zemel and sophomore Santiago Navarro defeated PVAMU’s Diego Hatem and Eduardo Nunez (6-2), senior Trinity Grear and sophomore Kabeer Kapasi defeated PVAMU’s Abdulraheem Isa and Jadyn Boone (6-1) and junior Arthus de la Bassetiere and junior Eduardo Morais defeated PVAMU’s Omari Dudley and Tafari Dudley (6-0).

In the singles section of the matches, the Owls won all six of the matches. Zemel defeated Nunez (6-0, 6-2) on court one. On court two, Grear trounced Abdulraheem (6-1, 6-0), and de la Bassetiere bested Hatem (6-2, 6-1) on court three. On court four, junior Emir Sendogan defeated Xavier Peter-Gooding (6-1, 6-2) and on court five, Navarro swept Boone (6-0, 6-0). Finally, on court six, Kapasi defeated Dudley (6-0, 6-1). 

“The team is coming together well,” Grear said. “I think that our team is very deep this year; everyone is very close in level so practices are very competitive and we’re all pushing each other. I’m really excited to compete with these guys going forward and enjoy my last season. I think that this weekend’s matches were a very solid start to a long season ahead. We handled our business but we also picked up some things we can look to sharpen in the coming weeks to see our team improve even more.”

In the afternoon match, the Owls continued their run by winning all three doubles matches. Kapasi and Morais defeated Hatem and Flores (6-2), de la Bassetiere and freshman Petro Kuzmenok defeated Isa and Peter-Gooding (6-2), and Grear and Sendogan defeated Dudley and Dudley (6-1). Ustundag was pleased with the composure of the team in the second match after a strong early performance.

“It’s always good to see our second set scores as strong as the first set score, or at times even stronger,” Ustundag said. “Sometimes when you are winning comfortably in first sets, it’s tough and it’s easy sometimes to lose a little bit of focus and get a little lazy. Thankfully, it didn’t happen, the guys just stayed the course.”

In the afternoon singles matches, the Owls won all six matches. On court one, Zemel defeated Isa (6-3, 6-1). On court two, de la Bassetiere defeated Flores in three (6-0, 4-6 1-0 (10-3)). On court three, Sendogan defeated Hatem (6-2, 6-1). On court four, Kapasi defeated Peter-Gooding (6-1, 6-1). On court five, Morasis defeated Dudley (6-0, 6-2). And on court six, Kuzmenok defeated Boone (6-0, 6-1). de la Bassetiere, who won in a third-set super-tiebreak to solidify the team’s perfect record on the day, felt the team was prepared to start the season off on the right foot.

“I think the team started the season in a good way,” de la Bassetiere said. “The coaches gave us great instructions for these first matches. I think everyone did a good job. We focused the last week of training more on the double parts and the work paid off. These matches allow us to set up the rhythm for this season.”

The Owls return to the court this Sunday at 11 a.m. at the George R. Brown Tennis Center to take on Lamar University. Looking to keep the undefeated record, de la Bassetiere is excited to continue the home stretch.

“I cannot wait to play next weekend against Lamar,” de la Bassetiere said. “It is always special to play at home. We will continue to play with a positive mindset and we will keep defending our home court.”

More from The Rice Thresher


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.