Feb. 11, 2012
Elizabeth Schmidt's 69th ranked Rice Owls survived a shaky start to fend off a strong challenge from Florida International to win their sixth consecutive match to open the 2012 season, 4-1 in the opening round of the Lady Raider Shootout in Lubbock, Texas.
Rice's 6-0 start matches its best start since the Owls were 6-0 to open the 2005 season.
The Owls will take on host Texas Tech in an early-morning conclusion to the event. First serves for the second day of action were moved up to 8 a.m. after weather conditions forced the action indoors at the Lubbock Country Club.
"This was really a great team effort today," Schmidt said. "We might not have played out best tennis as individuals, but we fought hard and came away with a win we can all be proud of."
With only four indoor courts available on Saturday, the Owls and Panthers were not able to get underway until 2 pm in the afternoon. Schmidt knew as soon as they arrived at the venue that her team was in for a challenge.
"The courts are incredibly fast and I knew that would play to FIU's strengths. We only had one court to warm up on, so we were going to have to get used to the surface during the match. They had us back on our heels at the start of doubles, but we showed a lot of heart to not panic. We were able to get comfortable with the conditions and started having success," she added.
Kim Anicete and Stephanie Nguyen won their match at #3 doubles to finish first and Natalie Beazant and Dominique Harmath followed suit at #1 to give the Owls the doubles point.
Beazant and Anicete picked up wins in singles, setting the stage for senior Ana Guzman to deliver the clinching point.
Guzman had dropped a grueling three-set match to close out the Owls' win at LSU on Tuesday, and Schmidt was thrilled to see her bounce back from a loss in the second set vs. FIU to take the third and clinch the match for her Owls' teammates.
"I'm really proud of Ana. She really battled hard and it was good to see her rewarded for a great effort," Schmidt noted.
Rice and Texas Tech will meet in breakfast-time battle on Sunday morning, but the two squads are not strangers to each other. They faced off in individual and doubles matches at the UCF Invitational to open the spring campaign and Schmidt knows the team is aware of the challenge ahead. "They are a very good team and we have had some experience playing them. We know it will be a great test tomorrow," she stated.
#69 Rice 4, Florida International 1
(Lubbock Country Club)
1. Natalie Beazant (RICE) def. Sarah McLean (FIU) 7-6 (7-3), 6-1
2. Rita Maisak (FIU) def. Dominique Harmath (RICE) 6-1, 7-5
3. Ana Guzman (RICE) def. Lisa Johnson (FIU) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
4. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) def. Karyn Guttormsen (FIU) 6-2, 7-5
1. Natalie Beazant/Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Sarah McLean/Rita Maisak (FIU) 8-4
2. Katie Gater/Ana Guzman (RICE) vs. Lisa Johnson/Karyn Guttormsen (FIU) 5-4, unfinished
3. Kimberly Anicete/Stephanie Nguyen (RICE) def. Giulietta Boha/Magali Holt (FIU) 8-2
Florida International 1-8
Rice 6-0; National ranking #69
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,4,1,3)