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Tuesday, July 14, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Luke Samora


SPORTS 4/15/14 3:55pm

Men’s tennis prepares for C-USA Tournament

This past weekend, Rice University faced fellow Texan teams Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University. After losing in a 7-0 match against TCU on Saturday, the Owls managed to beat rival SMU 4-2 and improved their record to 9-12. 



SPORTS 3/11/14 5:35pm

Men’s tennis secures win in San Diego

During spring break, the Rice University men’s tennis team ventured to La Jolla, Calif. to participate in the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship. The tournament lasted from Feb. 28 to March 3 and allowed players to enter alongside coaches.



NEWS 2/10/14 6:00pm

Men's tennis struggles on the road in Illinois

The men's tennis team continued their road trip by visiting Evanston, Ill. to face Northwestern University and Cornell University. On Friday, Feb. 7, the Owls lost 4-0 to Northwestern while on Saturday, Feb. 8, the Owls lost to Cornell 6-1. The Owls have a two-week break ahead of them and will not play another match until they take on the University of Louisiana, Lafayette on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. Head Coach Efe Ustundag said it is always hard to play on the road on consecutive weekends."Playing on the road back-to-back is always challenging," Ustundag said. "[However], there was no crowd noise this week that could have impacted our players' performances."Ustundag said that while the team had some great individual performances, they were not enough to keep the Owls from losing both matches."What happened this past weekend was slightly similar to the weekend before," Ustundag said. "We had some great performances by a few of our players, but there were not enough of them to change the outcome of either game."Ustundag said he is looking forward to the two-week break in hopes of preparing the team for the rest of its matches."This two-week break is much needed," Ustundag said. "We lost four matches in a row to nationally ranked teams, and we feel like we could have won a couple of them. We have to find ways to improve our mental toughness and make less unforced errors in key games. Two weeks of good, hard practices will shape the rest of the season." Sophomore Adam Gustafsson provided the Owls with their only point of the weekend, winning 6-2, 6-5 against Jason Luu of Cornell. Sophomore Tommy Bennett also had a one-set lead over Sam Shropshire in the Northwestern match before the Wildcats sealed the victory.Freshman Zack Yablon said this weekend did not help the team mentally, especially after having lost both of its matches the weekend before against Mississippi State University and Texas Tech University."I think this weekend was a bit demoralizing for us, especially since we had played nationally ranked teams in the past closely," Yablon said. "It just seemed like a step in the wrong direction for us."Yablon said it will take even more work to finally get a satisfying victory against a highly ranked opponent."We just have to keep working harder at everything," Yablon said. "Both the coaches and players need to improve. From the warm-ups to games, everything has to improve, and I'm sure it will. We just have to get that first big win as a team, and I think once we do, this team can do some serious damage with confidence."After the two-week break, the team will play the University of Louisiana, Lafayette at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. The Ragin Cajuns have a 5-2 record this season, with losses against Baylor University and Texas A&M University, both nationally ranked teams.


NEWS 2/4/14 6:00pm

Men's tennis loses to Texas Tech and Mississippi State

The men's tennis team lost both of its matches over the weekend, losing 5-2 to Mississippi State University and 4-2 to Texas Tech University. Rice will stay on the road with matchups against Northwestern University and Cornell University this weekend, both away games in Evanston, Ill.On Friday, the Owls played the Bulldogs without freshman Max Andrews, who usually plays in the third spot. He sat out for both matches last weekend. Freshman David Warren and sophomore Tommy Bennett picked up Rice's two singles points in this matchup.On Sunday, Rice again scored only two points with singles victories from freshman Zach Yablon and sophomore Adam Gustafsson. The singles matches were played first, making the doubles point unnecessary after the Red Raiders secured four points.Head Coach Efe Ustundag said the team played some inspiring tennis on the road, which made its trip to Lubbock worthwhile."What I really took away from this road trip was knowing that on any day of the week, we can play with some of the best teams in the nation," Ustundag said. "We are capable of beating ranked players, and compared to both opponents, we showed more team spirit and support."However, Ustundag said this still did not erase the two losses from the Owls' memory."At the same time, we have to do a better job of playing well in back-to-back matches individually," Ustundag said. "I feel like we have yet to play a match where all six guys play at their best. When that comes together, we will start defeating nationally ranked teams."Yablon said the team needs to forget about this weekend and focus on its trip to Illinois."We need to have short-term memory and take the positives away because just about everyone had their moments during either the match against Mississippi State [or] Texas Tech," Yablon said.Yablon said everyone on the team needs to come together this weekend, focusing on mental and physical toughness in each match. He also believes the indoor conditions this weekend will greatly benefit the team."We really need to have everyone come together this weekend and have everyone put their best effort forward," Yablon said. "I believe that the indoor conditions will suit our team nicely, and if we can keep up the mental and physical toughness, then this coming weekend will bring us success."The Owls face Northwestern on Friday, Feb. 7 and Cornell on Saturday, Feb. 8.


NEWS 1/27/14 6:00pm

Men's tennis has winning weekend

The Rice University men's tennis team played two matches this weekend, shutting out the University of Texas, Arlington and Texas A&M University, Prairie View. With a 2-2 record, the team heads on the road this weekend in hopes of having a winning record for the first time this season.The match against UT Arlington had to be moved inside due to the icy conditions, so it was played at the MET instead of the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. Even though the match was moved away from Jake Hess, the Owls still beat the Mavericks 4-0. Highlights from the game include Rice taking its first doubles point of the season. Freshman David Warren and sophomore Tommy Bennett along with junior Srikar Allar and junior Leif Berger won their respective doubles matches.Bennett said he and Warren have great chemistry, which shows on the court."It's a lot of fun playing with Warren," Bennett said. "He's a very positive, supportive partner, which is great. We are both upbeat on court, which is why I think we are working well together."Bennett said they also aspire to become one of the best men's doubles pairs in the country."We share the same ambition of becoming a high nationally-ranked pairing," Bennett said. "[Warren] is very professional on and off the court. I'm looking forward to turning these close losses into wins against big teams."Head Coach Efe Ustundag said the team showed improvement from last week's performances by making important shots when they were needed the most."The biggest issue we faced last weekend was to remain concentrated and focused throughout the entire match," Ustundag said. "Our guys stepped it up when it mattered to win their matches while keeping them from getting too close."The Owls will play No. 12 Mississippi State on Saturday and No. 53 Texas Tech University on Sunday in Lubbock. Ustundag said he expects the Owls to be ready to fight against major programs from the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12, respectively."I am expecting two tough teams without holes in their lineups, who are both coming out of a well-contested weekend," Ustundag said. "I still expect our team to play tough and make sure we continue to play united, focused and intense."Ustundag said both matches are winnable despite the challenges they present."It will come down to a few key points," Ustundag said, "If we make the right decisions play boldly and with aggression, I believe we can win both."


NEWS 1/20/14 6:00pm

Men's tennis opens season with two losses

The Rice University men's tennis team kicked off its season against two ranked opponents: No. 20 University of Texas, Austin and No. 24 Louisiana State University. Playing at the MET on Friday, the Owls lost 7-0 to the Longhorns. Returning to Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Sunday, the Owls narrowly lost 4-3 to LSU, bringing their season record to 0-2. This weekend, Rice will stay at home to play the University of Texas, Arlington on Friday while hosting the University of New Orleans and Texas A&M University, Prairie View on Sunday. Head Coach Efe Ustundag said it was good to know that the team is on par with a top team in the NCAA, and he is excited about the upcoming weeks."First and foremost, it is very exciting to know that we are just as good as a top 25-ranked team," Ustundag said. "I was very happy with the effort, intensity and the team spirit we showed today. Of course, we are never going to be happy with a loss. It was a tough one to lose, but a good one to be a part of. I am very optimistic for the next few weeks coming up."The team can put its record above .500 this upcoming week if it racks up a winning streak against UT Arlington, New Orleans and Prairie View. UT Arlington and New Orleans are coming off conference realignment changes, while Prairie View is the defending champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Ustundag said the team needs to focus on building up some momentum in the next couple of matches before it goes back out on the road. With a young team, Ustundag said it is crucial for the team to learn how to maintain a lead."The key is going to be taking care of leads and carrying out sets," Ustundag said. "This is what we will be practicing this week."Ustundag said these three programs do not present as much of a challenge as UT Austin or LSU, but he still expects all three teams to put up a fight."We are expecting solid competition this week from these three universities," Ustundag said. "We are hungry for some wins, and hopefully, that's what we will get this weekend."


NEWS 1/13/14 6:00pm

Men's tennis aims for C-USA title

As 2014 begins, the Rice University men's tennis team is ready to jump-start its season with home matches this week against the University of Texas, Austin and Louisiana State University. After a 4-0 loss to the University of Memphis in the Conference USA semifinals last season, the Owls have their eyes set on the main prize this year: the C-USA Championship.Head Coach Efe Ustundag, who has eight seasons of experience, said the team ultimately wants to make it to the NCAA tournament."We set two goals at the beginning of the season," Ustundag said. "One [was] to win the C-USA championships, and the second was to qualify for the NCAA championship. I believe we have the quality to achieve both."The team will have to look for contributions from four new freshmen and one junior transfer. Jonathan Chang (Wiess '13), Peter Frank (Martel '13) and senior Philipp Seifert have graduated and been replaced by jun ior Srikar Alla and freshmen Zachary Yablon, David Warren, Max Andrews and Henrik Munch.Ustundag said he expects all of these players to make a major impact and help the team this season."We have four new freshmen in Zach, David, Max and Henrik and a junior transfer in Srikar who we expect to help the team immediately," Ustundag said. "This class is going to be instrumental in the success of this [team], and I expect a good portion of these newcomers to be starters for us this semester and [help us] compete [in] C-USA."Without any seniors on the team, younger players may have to step up and be leaders when the situation calls for it, Ustundag said."It's always tough when you lose quality senior leadership like you had in Jonathan and Peter," Ustundag said. "But at the same time, I feel like this year's team has a much different vibe and [overall] character. They are very committed to leaving their footprints on the program. So far, it has been a complete team effort in leadership. They are doing a great job holding each other accountable and responsible. I expect every one of them to step up and lead this team."Last weekend, as a warmup for the start of the season, the team played in the University of Central Florida quad tournament in Orlando, Fla. The Owls played against the University of Louisville, Texas Christian University, Indiana University, UCF and The Citadel. Andrews capped off an undefeated singles weekend (4-0) by defeating TCU freshman Andres Alfonzo 6-2 on Sunday.Ustundag said the tournament challenged the players and helped prepare them for the upcoming games against UT and LSU this weekend. "The Orlando trip accomplished much of what we wanted to [achieve]," Ustundag said. "We played four quality matches, and each [player] was pushed physically and mentally. It also gave us the opportunity to see how everyone looked after a long break where they had to work out on their own. Overall, this gave us the best opportunity to prepare for LSU and Texas, two teams which have had very good fall season results and two teams that our guys are really excited to play right off the bat."


NEWS 12/3/13 6:00pm

Men's basketball splits two-game weekend on the road

The Rice University men's basketball team played two games over Thanksgiving Break, losing to Rider University on Friday, Nov. 29 and winning against Santa Clara University on Saturday, Nov. 30. Both games were played in the 47th Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, Calif.On Friday, the Rice Owls lost to Rider 97-93 in overtime. The Owls shot 48 percent from the 3-point line and shot 53 percent from the field during the two games.After Friday night's loss, the Rice Owls came back with a close win in their last game of the Cable Car Classic, defeating Santa Clara 67-66. Santa Clara took the lead late in the second half with only 6.9 seconds remaining, but sophomore guard Keith Washington closed the game out, driving down the length of the court to score a game-winning layup. Washington said he took advantage of Santa Clara's defensive setup to give the Owls the one-point win."I knew they were in man coverage, and I'm fast enough to beat my man," Washington said. "And I also knew that when they put just one person on me, all I had to do was to just beat him, and the game would be ours."Freshman forward Sean Obi said the team has come together both mentally and physically over the past few games. Obi said he feels he is finally in game shape, which will help him out as the season moves forward."I've gotten a lot stronger," Obi said. "I put on more muscle and burned a lot of body fat, which is something I worked on all summer. Secondly, I feel like I have toughened up mentally; this is not high school where you have to play against 6-foot, 4-inch centers."Rice's current record is 3-4. The Owls return to action this Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Houston Baptist University. The Huskies play in the Southland Conference and are currently 2-5. So far this season, the Huskies have averaged 64.4 points per game, while their opponents have averaged 74.1 points against them. Sophomore guard Rob Lewis is the Huskies' leading scorer, averaging 13 points per game off 40 percent shooting, while sophomore forward Cody Joyce is averaging 9.7 points and four rebounds per game.After playing against the Huskies on Wednesday, the Owls will play against the University of South Alabama at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at Tudor Fieldhouse. The game was rescheduled due to the recent announcement that the Conference USA Football championship will be held at Rice on Saturday at 11 a.m.