The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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

Men’s, women’s tennis lose in C-USA tournament

Both of SMU’s tennis teams suffered heartbreaking losses in this weekend’s Conference USA championship tournaments.

The men lost to Tulsa in Oklahoma Saturday when the No. 3 seed posted four wins to upset the No. 2 seeded SMU. But the loss did not keep head Coach Carl Neufeld and player David Kuczer from supporting the women in their match against Rice University.

The final match, which took place at the Garland Tennis Center, was a hard-fought battle for both teams.

SMU had played well all week, downing UCF and Tulsa to face Rice in the championship match on Sunday. The women were excited about their top seed going into the tournament, said SMU Coach Rob Howarth.

“We set this goal halfway through the season,” he said.

Unfortunately the top spot brings a lot of pressure, which the women discovered on Sunday afternoon.

The doubles matches set the tone for the rest of the day, with Rice taking two of the three match-ups.

“Rice played the best doubles I’ve ever seen them play,” said head Coach Howarth. “We played well too, but they were the better team of the day.”

Both SMU’s No. 1 and No. 2 singles started off well. Svetlana Kuzmenko attempted to defend the No. 1 position against Rice’s Blair DeSesa.

Kuzmenko came out with aggressive serves and powerful ground strokes ,which she blasted past her opponent in the first game. But DeSea’s solid one-handed backhand proved to be too much for Kouzmenko. It was the first singles match to finish, with Rice winning 6-3, 6-1.

Natalia Bubien moved down from her normal position at No. 1 to take on Rice’s Christine Dao at No. 2. Bubien had no trouble with the first set, but her serve started giving her trouble in the second, allowing Dao to tie the match at one set all.

Bubien was on the attack again in the third set when the match was called with her ahead 3-1.

The championship was decided before the two were able to finish their three-set match. One of the deciding matches was at the No. 4 spot between SMU’s Kristen Reid and Rice’s Medeja Egic.

Reid’s game lacked its usual confidence; she made numerous errors and struggled with her serve. Egic played it safe, rarely hitting winners and letting Reid lose the match for herself. Rice took the match 6-2, 6-0.

Halley Rambally pulled out a singles victory for SMU at the No. 6 position. Rambally’s opponent, Rice’s Emily Braid, did not make a win easy for her. Rambally stayed strong and ran down everything Braid hit at her, which visibly upset Rice’s No. 6 player.

The No. 6 match was the only actual victory for SMU in singles. Both Georgiana Marta and Brooke Rambally fought to the bitter end with their Rice opponents. At the No. 3 spot, Marta took on Rice’s Tiffany Lee in an intense three-set match that was called before they were able to finish.

Lee easily took the first set with Marta making numerous unforced errors and failing to close on crucial points. The second set, however, seemed like a completely different match with Marta serving more consistently and blasting a few down-the-line winners past Rice’s Lee.

The men’s head Coach Carl Neufeld, who showed up to support the SMU women, described Marta as a “fighter.” “She always is so mentally solid. While her opponent starts to crack she just stays calm,” he said.

Her comeback proved to be too little, too late, and the match ended with her up 1-6, 6-1, 1-0. Brooke Rambally’s No. 5 contest became the match that decided the championship.

Although she lost to Rice’s Alanna Rodgers 6-4, 6-3, the match went much longer than the other two-setters. Rodgers was almost twice the size of petite Rambally, but that did not prevent SMU’s No. 5 player from putting her all into the match. Rambally ran from one end of the court to the other, returning the majority of Rodgers’ difficult shots. When Rodgers closed the match, the entire Rice team ran onto court three to congratulate her.

The Mustangs, obviously disappointed with their loss, waited patiently to receive their second place trophy.

SMU is currently ranked No. 51 in the nation. The top 44 teams typically advance into the NCAA tournament. After an abrupt and disappointing end to a great season, Coach Howarth and the SMU women’s tennis team wait to hear if it will receive a bid to the national tournament. The SMU men’s team is also waiting to hear if it will receive an “at large” bid to the NCAAs.

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