HOUSTON – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Men's Tennis team, ranked No. 53 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Rankings, lost a hard-fought 4-1 final against host Rice in the finale of the Rice Team Invitational.
"There is no shame in losing a great battle like this where we competed this hard," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "I didn't think we started as fast as I'd like, but we really battled back to win second sets and keep the match alive."
The Islanders (8-7) ran into a Rice (8-8) team that had beaten No. 33 Oregon the night before and finished 3-0 in their home tournament.
"Give Rice credit, they competed unbelievably hard and really paid the price to beat us," said Moore. "They are a very good team, a team on the rise, and they competed as tough today as any team we played all year. They are a lot like us, with a couple of freshmen who are great fighters and really set the tone for their team.
"I think you're going to see them do very well as this year goes on. They beat two ranked teams in a row by a 4-1 final. I think you'll see them finish with a very successful year because of how hard they compete and how well coached they are."
In doubles action, the Owls earned an 8-3 win over Matt Westmoreland and Andrew Maingot at No. 3, while Guillaume Rauseo and Odon Barta came up short by an 8-5 score at No. 2 doubles as Rice clinched the first point of the match. Peter Nagy and Gergo Weidinger's match at No. 1 went unfinished when doubles play was complete.
"This was a great college dual match, with two teams battling as hard as they can on the third day in a row of playing," said Moore. "A lot of guys from both teams competed with a lot of courage today."
In singles play, the Owls added to the lead early as Javier Pujol came up short by a 6-2, 6-2 final at No. 4 singles to make it 2-0. Weidinger lost his first set, but battled to a tiebreaker in the second before falling 7-6 (7-5) at No. 2 to make it a 3-0 Rice lead.
Ricardo Mayagoitia won a quick first set, but had to grit out a third set for the Islanders only point, winning 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 5 singles to make it 3-1. The Owls clinched the match at No. 6, with Rauseo falling behind a set but rallying to force a third in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 match that stopped play.
The other two remaining matches were both in the third set, as Nagy at No. 1, and Westmoreland at No. 3 rallied to force a deciding set before the match was clinched.
"Our guys fought as hard as they could, and it was going to be a heck of a finish with the last four matches in the third set," said Moore. "They're competing with all their heart, these young guys just need to make a few percent adjustments and a few different chess moves we have to learn to make to take our team to the next level, but as far as competing hard, I'm incredibly proud of them."
Next up for the Islanders is March 21 match against Prairie View A&M at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. Both the men's and women's teams will take on the Panthers that day, with the pair of matches set for a simultaneous start at 3 p.m.
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Tennis Match Results
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs Rice
03/17/13 at Houston, Texas
Rice 4, #53 Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 1
1. Jonathan Chang (RICE) vs. #103 Peter Nagy (AMCC) 6-3, 5-7, 2-2, unfinished
2. Adam Gustafsson (RICE) def. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 6-3, 7-6
3. Tommy Bennett (RICE) vs. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) 6-2, 3-6, 4-3, unfinished
4. Philipp Seifert (RICE) def. Javier Pujol (AMCC) 6-2, 6-2
5. Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) def. Peter Frank (RICE) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
6. Gustavo Gonzalez (RICE) def. Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
1. Tommy Bennett/Adam Gustafsson (RICE) vs. Peter Nagy/Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 7-6, unfinished
2. Peter Frank/Philipp Seifert (RICE) def. Guillaume Rauseo/Odon Barta (AMCC) 8-5
3. Leif Berger/Jonathan Chang (RICE) def. Andrew Maingot/Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) 8-3
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 8-7; National ranking #53
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (4,2,5,6)
55th Rice Invitational
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