Houston: The Rice men’s tennis team evened its record at 8-8 with a 5-2 win over UTA at the George R. Brown Tennis Center on Thursday.
Doubles: Jacob Eskeland and AJ Valenty gave the Owls the early advantage with a 6-2 win at the second line, but UTA struck back with a win at three and was tied 3-3 at the first line. Sumit Sarkar aced a deuce point serve to put the Owls up 4-3 and then combined with Conrad Russell to break the Mavs in the next game and then hold to grab the first point.
Singles: The Owls jumped out to take four of six first sets, but the Mavericks refused to surrender the clinching points without a fight. After UTA tied the match with a win at the first line, freshman Trinity Grear put the Owls ahead to stay with a win on court six. Jacob Eskeland and Mohamed Abdel-Aziz followed to provide the points to clinch the win while Adam Oscislawski shook off a 6-1 loss in his first set to win his second in a tiebreaker and then add the fifth point of the day with a win in the superset.
Efe Ustundag: “It was a tough match. Doubles ended up being huge. It was nice to have AJ back in the lineup and he played solid doubles today to get a quick win on two. We came through at the end on one. They were at deuce point at three-all and got the hold. Then they break right away and play a good game to close it out. At one point at the start of singles we got broken across four courts in the first game of the match, but right away we made the adjustment. Adam comes back from a 6-1 first set. Wes had so many opportunities to finish his off in the second, but it didn’t go his way. UTA always pushes us. They come in and grind and always make it a tough day. I’m glad that we responded the way we did. Now we have a weekend off and it comes at a very good time. It gives us a chance to hit a big of a reset button. April is going to be a brutal stretch in terms of the quality of the matches in the regular season and then at conference. What we’ve been talking about all year long is that we didn’t want to peak in January but to keep building to the end of April. Hopefully we can use this week to continue to get healthier and be ready to hit our peak.”
Up Next: The Owls will host C-USA rival UTSA on April 3 at 1 p.m. at GRBTC.