No. 3 Men's Tennis advances to NCAA Round of 16 with 4-0 win over Rice
AUSTIN, Texas -- Third-seeded Texas (24-3) navigated its way through nearly four hours of weather-related delays on Sunday to defeat No. 29 Rice (19-7), 4-0 in the NCAA regional final at UT's Penick-Allison Tennis Center. Texas advances to the NCAA round of 16 - its first such appearance since 2003 - where it will take on 14th-seeded Mississippi on Saturday, May 20 at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Texas withstood a 47-minute lightning delay near the end of doubles play before finally clinching the point. At the third position, sophomores Travis Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan.) and Luis Diaz Barriga (Cordoba, Mexico) dealt Rice's Tony Haerle and Jason Mok an 8-5 defeat before UT junior Hubert Chodkiewicz (Corpus Christi, Texas) and Roger Gubser (Laredo, Texas) defeated Rice's Ben Harknett and Chris Muller by an 8-6 margin at the second position to clinch the point.
Singles play commenced immediately after doubles play, but the match was halted by the threat of thunderstorms in the Austin area. Three hours and five minutes later, singles play resumed, and Texas wasted little time to seal its round-of-32 win.
Gubser extended the Longhorns' lead to 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Rice's 79th-ranked Ralph Knupfer at the second position. Minutes later, UT sophomore Milan Mihailovic (Nis, Serbia) dealt Rice's Filip Zivojinovic a 6-1, 6-3 loss at the fourth position to push the Texas cushion to 3-0. Texas freshman Michael Venus (Orlando, Fla.) put the finishing touches on the UT victory moments later by dispatching Rice's Mok by a 6-4, 6-1 count at the sixth position.
Texas improves to 25-23 in NCAA tournament play and 9-5 in NCAA matches under Center. The Longhorns now own a 58-16-7 overall series against Rice, their former Southwest Conference rival.
NCAA Tennis Championships
Singles - Order of Finish: 2, 4, 6
On returning to the round of 16 for the first time since 2003: "We were disappointed to miss it (the round of 16) the last couple of years. We were very young last year, and we feel like we have improved dramatically. The things we did last year have allowed us to enjoy the type of success we have had this season. We're excited to be a part of the NCAA Championships at Stanford."
On the absence of Rice's 28th-ranked Robert Searle... "Rice had to play without their top player today, but they didn't let that get to them. Coach (Ron) Smarr has a great team who just had a terrific season."
Rice Coach Ron Smarr
On Texas... "Texas is very good and is capable of reaching at least the national semifinals. We played a great team today. They outworked us and outplayed us."