PROVO -- Thursday's women's tennis match featuring the No. 29 BYU Cougars hosting the Rice Owls ended in the sixth win in a row for the Cougars with a score of 7-0, the team's first sweep of the season. BYU head coach Craig Manning and his team hope Thursday's match is a sturdy jumping-off point for Saturday's match against No. 2 Notre Dame.
"We're playing well and getting better," Manning said. "Doubles is getting better. Jones found her game today and Surkova is playing really well. Holden and Chang are also really on top of their games now too. Honestly, though, it doesn't matter who we play. We are just trying to get better every match and we'll just try to get better against Notre Dame too. We want everyone to be at the top of their games going into the last matches of conference and nationals. That's what we're really worried about."
As part of that constant improvement the team seeks, BYU has made it a habit of winning the doubles point throughout the year and Thursday was no different. Lauren Jones and Sofia Holden at No. 2 got off the court first, winning 8-3 and improving their season doubles record to 8-4. The No. 1 court was the next to finish as Anastasia Surkova and Jenny Miccoli as the won their match 8-3 as well and clinched the doubles point. Kristina Doerr and Dolly Chang were not far behind at No. 3, finishing only minutes later and completing the doubles sweep with an 8-4 win.
"As long as we can maintain the level we are playing at we should do well," junior Anastasia Surkova said. "We're trying to focus on our own game. All the teams are getting better right now and playing so well and it's just good to get confidence and play more and more matches."
The singles competition was not as lopsided as the results may project. The Owls showed grit and determination as they fought for every point in their attempt to upset the Cougars on unfamiliar turf. Surkova finished quickly on court 2 with a 6-1, 6-1 victory, but Doerr and Chie Hayasaka both lost their first sets on courts three and four, respectively. However, when it was all said and done, BYU brought too much to their home courts for the Owls to handle.
On court No. 1 in the singles competition, Rice's freshman phenom Julie Chao set the tone for the match and broke BYU's Jones in the first game of the match. Despite the quick start from the youngster, Jones battled to break back in the second game and put the match back on serve. Later in the first set it was Jones to break and go up two games, but Chao returned the favor and broke right back to put the match back on serve yet again with Jones up 5-4 and Chao serving. In the end, though, the set would go to Jones in the next game as she broke Chao for the third time and took the first, 6-4. The second set was all Jones as she won the first five games of the set and took the match 6-4, 6-1.
Chang had the quickest match of the day at No. 6, winning 6-0, 6-0. Other winners include Doerr, Hayasaka and Holden.
Saturday will likely be the women's team's toughest match of the season as the Cougars' play host to No. 2 Notre Dame at 4 p.m. The match will be preceded by the men's team in a match against Montana State at 11 a.m. Parking and admission is free. The matches will take place at the outdoor courts, weather permitting. If there is inclement weather, the matches will take place at the indoor facility adjacent to the outdoor courts.
"It will be a good chance to take out a top team because we are deeper into the season now and we're all starting to play really well," Jones said.
No. 29 BYU 7, Rice 0
1. Surkova/Jenny Miccoli def. Karas/Chao 8-3
2. Jones/Holden def. Lin/Dao 8-3
3. Doerr/Chang def. Lee/Braid 8-4
Order of finish:
2, 1*, 3
(* clinches point)
BYU wins doubles point
1. Lauren Jones def. Julie Chao 6-4, 6-1
2. Anastasia Surkova def. Christine Dao 6-1, 6-1
3. Kristina Doerr def. Tiffany Lee 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2)
4. Chie Hayasaka def. Dominique Karas 6-7, 6-3, 6-4
5. Sofia Holden def. Rebecca Lin 6-4, 6-3
6. Dolly Chang def. Emily Braid 6-0, 6-0
Order of finish:
2, 1, 6*, 3, 5, 4
(* clinches win)
1. Haysaka/ Jocelyn Jensen def. Jennifer Pan/ Veronica Sagastegui 8-0
No. 29 Cougars Host Owls on Thursday
PROVO -- National rankings were released Tuesday and the BYU women's tennis team (7-4) surpassed its highest ranking of the season as it jumped from No. 32 to No. 29. The surging Cougars host the struggling Rice University Owls (3-8) Thursday at 11 a.m. at the BYU Indoor Tennis Courts.
BYU enters Thursday's match on a five-match roll with a 3-1 record at home this season. A tough schedule has taxed the Cougars and Rice will only the third team that is not ranked that BYU has played this season.
"We feel like we just keep getting stronger with each match," BYU head coach Craig Manning said. "We're starting to build confidence and momentum. Our performance keeps getting better and each match it is somebody else that steps up for us and pushes us over the hump."
The Owls, who faced Utah on Tuesday in Salt Lake, came to Utah in hopes of turning around their two-match skid. Rice had its day in the sun earlier in the season when it was ranked as high as No. 69, but has since dropped out of the national spotlight after losing to tough teams from LSU, San Diego State and TCU.
The match was originally scheduled for 4 p.m., but the time was moved to 11 a.m. to better accommodate both teams. Admission to the match is free and a free raffle will take place for all those in attendance. BYU student and faculty parking will not be available to the public, but parking is available on the roads adjacent to the facility and south of campus.