HOUSTON – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Women's Tennis team suffered a 4-0 defeat on Tuesday afternoon at the Jake Hess Tennis Center, falling 4-0 against the No. 27 Rice Owls, a team that has continued to climb in the ITA National Rankings throughout the season.
"This match was good for us and it showed us the things we need to work on to take our team to the next level," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "We played a great team today, a team that just beat Texas a few weeks ago and made the Sweet 16 last year. I felt we competed extremely hard, and definitely had our opportunities to win the doubles point.
It was just the second loss of the year for the Islanders (10-2) while Rice (11-4) won its sixth match in a row.
In doubles action, the teams split the first two matches before Rice claimed the deciding point. No. 1 doubles team Doris Kuselj and Stefania Nicolae fell by an 8-3 final at the No. 30-ranked doubles team in the nation, while Sandra Burges and Chelsea Horan rallied for a crucial 8-6 win at the No. 2 flight. It all came down to No. 3 doubles, with Maider Martin and Mia Matuszak holding a lead at one point, but coming up just short in another tough 8-6 match.
"As a coach, you're always looking for a way to win four points, even against a great team like this," said Moore. "I still believe our team can play with anyone if we max out and play each point smart and with intensity. And if you can play with anybody, you can beat anybody."
In singles play, Kuselj lost at No. 1 singles for Rice's second point, coming up short by a 6-2, 6-1 score against Natalie Beazant, the No. 30-ranked player in the nation. Sandra Burges came up short at No. 3 singles, falling 6-1, 6-3 to make it a 3-0 Rice advantage. The match was clinched at No. 2 singles, as Martin lost 6-0, 6-2 to No. 105 Dominique Harmath to complete play.
Nicolae won her first set by a 7-5 score before the match was clinched, as all the remaining matches went unfinished. Both Horan and Celia Rodriguez Delgado were up 4-3 in the second set when play was stopped.
"I feel this is a great learning opportunity for the girls because this is the type of team you have to beat at the NCAA Championships," said Moore. "This experience can help make us better for the future."
Despite the obvious competition on the court, the teams and coaching staffs have mutual respect for each other, and play annually on both the men's and women's sides. The Owls women were the first visiting team to ever play at the new Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center, opening the venue with the inaugural match of the 2012 season.
"I have the highest respect for Rice's program," said Moore. "They're one of the elite programs in the nation, and one of the classiest as well. I don't believe they've had one overrule in three years that we've played them, which is an incredibly high compliment to their integrity and character."
Next up for the Islanders will be competing dual matches on Thursday afternoon at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. Both the men's and women's teams will face Prairie View A&M at 2 p.m. in Corpus Christi.
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Tennis Match Results
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs Rice
03/19/13 at Houston, Texas
#27 Rice 4, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 0
1. #59 Natalie Beazant (RICE) def. Doris Kuselj (AMCC) 6-2, 6-1
2. #105 Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Maider Martin (AMCC) 6-0, 6-2
3. Liat Zimmermann (RICE) def. Sandra Burges (AMCC) 6-1, 6-3
4. Katie Gater (RICE) vs. Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) 5-7, 5-3, unfinished
5. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) vs. Chelsea Horan (AMCC) 6-2, 3-4, unfinished
6. Solomiya Zinko (RICE) vs. Celia Rodriguez (AMCC) 6-1, 3-4, unfinished
1. #30 Natalie Beazant/Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Doris Kuselj/Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) 8-3
2. Sandra Burges/Chelsea Horan (AMCC) def. Liat Zimmermann/Katie Gater (RICE) 8-6
3. Daniela Trigo/Solomiya Zinko (RICE) def. Mia Matuszak/Maider Martin (AMCC) 8-6
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 10-2
Rice 11-4; National ranking #29
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,3,2)