The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Men’s tennis defeats Rice, while women falter against the Owls

SMUs Federico Murgier takes a swing during a match against UCI.
Sarah Acosta
SMU’s Federico Murgier takes a swing during a match against UCI.

SMU’s Federico Murgier takes a swing during a match against UCI. (Sarah Acosta)

Men now third in C-USA

The No. 60 men’s tennis team had better luck than the women against the No. 19 Rice Owls, defeating its conference opponent in a 5-0 sweep Saturday afternoon as SMU’s Turpin Tennis Stadium.

The afternoon stretch of the Mustangs’ double-header started with a sweep over the Owls, complemented by a flawless record over Grambling State in the evening.

Rice fell in an early and commanding lead by the Mustangs, as SMU improved to 17-7 on the season. Rice slipped to 12-7 in Conference USA.

Head coach Carl Neufeld said in a press conference after Saturday’s game, “It was probably the best I’ve seen our team play in 15 years. It was a fantastic effort on the guys’ part. I think it really shows what we’re capable of.”

Chris Hooshyar and Oivind Alver got the Mustangs off to a strong start, crushing Bruno Rosa and Flip Zivojinovic of Rice in an 8-4 match. SMU’s Alex Skrypko and Adolfo Solares captured the No. 2 doubles spot, winning the match 8-6.

Robin Fahgen and David Kuczer grabbed another important win for the Mustangs after downing the No. 22 pair, Ralph Knupfer and Christoph from Rice, in 7-0 sweep.

“We continue to improve in doubles,” said Neufeld. “Winning the doubles point against a great team like Rice sets the tone for the rest of the match.”

On the singles court, SMU took a strong lead, getting off to a 1-0 advantage when Skrypko won his 10th match of the season over No. 3 Knupfer in 6-0 and 6-3 matches. Hooshyar slammed No. 6 Dennis Polyakov in two sets of 6-1 and 6-2 to give SMU another point in the match.

The Mustangs clinched wins in the fourth and fifth single spots as well, with Alver and Solares each clinching straight-set wins over Rice. SMU’s Kuczer and Fahgen struggled to win their singles matches, but with the game already decided in the Mustangs’ favor, both sets were surrendered in the first and second slots. Kuczer fell to No. 27 Rosa, and Fahgen struggled to come out on top of No. 49 Muller.

The evening’s match against Grambling State provided similar results for the Mustangs. SMU won every match, with Alver, Taylor St. Eve and Bryan Griffin all playing perfect matches in singles.

SMU is currently in third in Conference USA polls, earning an automatic bid to the semifinals in the conference championship on April 18-20 at SMU’s home court.

The men will play again in the first night match ever at SMU on Wednesday against the University of Texas-Arlington. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Loss to Rice drops SMU to fifth in C-USA

SMU’s nationally ranked tennis pair, Natalia Bubien and Pavi Francis, won their fifth-consecutive match Saturday afternoon against Julie Chao and Dominique Karas from Rice.

The Owls are currently ranked third in Conference USA polls, qualifying automatically for the semifinal. SMU is ranked fifth, earning a bid to the quarterfinals.

Coming off a win over the No. 1 doubles pair in the country, the Mustangs defeated Notre Dame on March 24, but lost in doubles to the Fighting Irish. Bubien achieved an Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranking at No. 88 as a result of her victory over Notre Dame, and had previously spent four weeks at No. 73 before dropping off the poll, and then reappearing in time for Saturday’s match.

Francis went into Saturday’s match being ranked for the first time in her career after knocking off No. 1 Notre Dame in an 8-7 match.

The No. 41 pair dominated Rice for the No. 1 spot in the tournament in an 8-2 match in the first women’s tennis match at the Turpin’s Tennis Stadium at SMU.

Apprehensive about the newly-matched pair, head coach Lauren Longbotham-Meisner said in a press release, “Natalia and and Pavi have really been unstoppable. They continue to play well together at No. 1 and I’m very pleased with their effort today.”

The pair’s win also knocked Chao off a three-game win streak.

On the next court, SMU’s duo Nicole Briceno and Kristen Reid duked it out for the No. 2 position, but fell to Tiffany Lee and Rebecca Lin. SMU’s Sarah Acosta and Jordan Hamilton also fell in the third double slot to Emily Braid and Varshs Shiva-Shankar.

SMU’s singles struggled to get a win, dropping all six chances at a victory. Bubien put up a strong front against Rice’s Chao, but fell in a final 6-4 and 6-3. Francis also struggled in the No. 2 straight sets, 6-1 and 6-2. Reis struggled in both her sets, falling 6-3 and 7-5, and teammate Briceno fell 6-4 and 10-7, but managed one win with a 4-6 match in SMU’s favor.

Lindsay Norman had a rough college debut, losing 6-4 and 6-2 to Rice’s Emily Braid. Acosta brought the day to a close with two 6-0 losses.

“We got solid efforts from [Acosta] and [Norman],” said Longbotham-Meisner, “and we got another great effort by [Briceno]. It was her fourth three-set match in a row, and I’m proud of the way she has continued to battle this season. It was just a tough day for us out there.”

The match against the Mustangs closed out Rice’s regular season, with the Owls finishing 16-4 overall. After Saturday’s win, Rice’s head coach Roger White said he was proud of his team, and stressed SMU was a tough program for his team to compete against.

The SMU women’s tennis team will host Arkansas State on Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Turpin Tennis Stadium before closing out their season on April 13 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

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