Rice edges No. 16 Men's Tennis, 4-3
AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 16 Texas (5-4) captured the doubles point and picked up singles victories from freshman Rook Schellenberg and junior Luis Diaz Barriga, but No. 35 Rice (7-4) rallied with four singles victories to top Texas, 4-3 Sunday afternoon at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
"This was a tough loss," said UT coach Michael Center. "We started slowly in singles play and rallied ourselves back into the match. I give Rice credit...the Owls fought hard to win the match. It's time for us to go back to work."
Texas dropped the opening doubles match in a tiebreaker but rallied for hard-fought victories at the second and third positions to seize the doubles point. Junior Milan Mihailovic (Nis, Serbia) and sophomore Miguel Reyes Varela (Cocoyoc, Mexico) posted an 8-6 victory over Jason Mok and Christoph Muller at second doubles before juniors Luis Diaz Barriga (Cordoba, Mexico) and Bernhard Deussner (Vienna, Austria) rallied from a 5-1 deficit to record a 9-7 win over Ben Harknett and Filip Zivojinovic at third doubles.
The Owls evened the tally at one when Filip Paroci knocked off UT's Dimitar Kutrovsky in straight sets, winning by a 6-2, 6-1 count at second singles. Texas reclaimed the lead at the sixth position when freshman Rook Schellenberg (Dallas, Texas) dealt Rice's Hooney Shin a 6-2, 6-3 defeat.
Rice evened the match at two points apiece when Ralph Knupfer withstood a second-set rally from UT's Mihailovic, winning 6-1, 7-5 at the third slot. Texas took the lead once more when Diaz Barriga rallied for a three-set victory over the Owls' Muller, winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Rice's Mok later outlasted UT freshman Josh Zavala (Amarillo, Texas) at fifth singles, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to even the score once more at three points apiece.
UT's Reyes Varela and Rice's Harknett engaged in a lengthy battle at first singles that decided the match. After dropping the first set, 6-4, Reyes Varela bounced back with a 6-2 showing in the second set to force the decisive third set.
Leading 6-5 with a match point in his favor, Reyes Varela smashed a forehand that appeared to land inside the baseline for a winner; however, Rice's Harknett called the ball out, and the umpire concurred.
Harknett took the game to force a tiebreaker, where Reyes Varela would hold two match points with a 6-4 lead. Harknett saved both on the strength of two long rallies and set up a match point of his own, but Reyes Varela saved the point. However, Harknett took the final two points to clinch the match for the Owls.
Texas returns to the courts on Wednesday, March 7 when it takes on Arkansas at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
No. 35 Rice 4, No. 16 Texas 3
Singles - Order of Finish: 2, 6, 3, 4, 5, 1