April 23, 2016
By Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Junior Alison Ho provided the early spark and her teammates on the 45th ranked Rice women's tennis team fought off a late charge by North Texas to reach the title match of the Conference USA championship for the sixth straight year with a 4-1 win on Saturday at the Adams Tennis Complex in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The Owls will look to become the first women's tennis team in the 21-year history of the event to win four consecutive titles when the face the top-seeded FIU Panthers at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
"I said it yesterday, but Alison Ho again today got that second point on the board fast and that is huge in any dual match but especially here," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said.
The Owls won for their 11th consecutive C-USA tournament match and for fifth time in the last six matches this season. After struggling in the middle of the year in doubles, they grabbed the point for the fifth time in the last six matches as Ho and Lindsey Hodge clinched it with a win on court two.
"It's always nice to get that doubles point," Schmidt said. "I was really happy with the way we played at two. They really stepped it up today and played much more aggressive than yesterday and played smart."
Ho followed with a quick on court five, finishing first for the second consecutive day. But Schmidt knew the Mean Green were not going to relinquish the final two points without a fight.
"I thought they fought really hard. They are a well-coached team. They gave everything they had and we gave all we had. It was a great match," she added.
UNT cut the margin to 2-1 with a win on court two, but Savannah Durkin shook off a second set loss to win in three sets on court five to increase the tally to 3-1 and Lindsey Hodge delivered the clincher with a 7-5, 6-3 win on one.
Rice and FIU met in last year's semifinals, with the Owls taking 4-1 decision on their way to a third conference crown.
First serves are set for 10 a.m. Live stats will be available at
Tennis Match Results
North Texas vs Rice
4/23/2016 at Murfreesboro, Tenn.
#45 Rice 4, #71 North Texas 1
1. Lindsey Hodge (RICE) def. Maria Kononova (NT) 7-5, 6-3
2. Tamuna Kutubidze (NT) def. Katherine Ip (RICE) 6-4, 6-1
3. Emily Smith (RICE) vs. Nastya Shestakova (NT) 6-7, 4-5 (4-7), unfinished
4. Savannah Durkin (RICE) def. Agustina Valenzuela (NT) 6-1, 2-6, 6-0
5. Alison Ho (RICE) def. Minying Liang (NT) 6-2, 6-3
6. Solomiya Zinko (RICE) vs. Laura Arciniegas (NT) 6-4, 5-2, unfinished
1. Tamuna Kutubidze/Maria Kononova (NT) def. Emily Smith/Katherine Ip (RICE) 6-3
2. Lindsey Hodge/Alison Ho (RICE) def. Minying Liang/Agustina Valenzuela (NT) 6-2
3. Savannah Durkin/Solomiya Zinko (RICE) def. Nastya Shestakova/Alexis Thoma (NT) 6-1
North Texas 13-10; National ranking #71
Rice 12-9; National ranking #45
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (5,2,4,1)
2016 Conference USA Women's Tennis Championship
No. 2 Rice vs. No. 3 North Texas
Official: Ted Mason T-2:20 A-107