UH tennis chokes in tie-breaking set

Houston fell short against Rice in a tough 4-3 decision in the Conference USA championship to end its season 16-11, but UH head coach John Severance said he wants his team to take lessons from the quarterfinal loss for the future.

"I can only hope we learn from (the match against Rice) and get better as a team and to continue with even more success," Severance said.

Houston hosted the tournament at John E. Hoff courts and played Rice on Friday for the chance to advance to the semifinals.

The competition ended quickly at No. 2 doubles as junior Lynley Wasson and freshman Joanna Kacprzyk came up short against Owls senior Tiffany Lee and sophomore Rebecca Lin, 8-1. Houston duo junior Vicky Simpson and senior Leila Salek tamed Owls junior Emily Braid and freshman Varsha Shiva-Shankar in a 8-5 win in No. 3 doubles.

UH No. 1 doubles team junior Jordan McCombs and freshman Lucy Forward won the deciding game for the doubles point in a tiebreaker against Rice sophomore Julie Chao and junior Dominique Karas, 9-8.

"We came out with a lot of intensity, we dominated that tiebreak at No. 1 doubles to win the doubles point, and I think we carried that momentum in the singles," Severance said.

Salek ended her college career with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Karas at No. 2 singles. Forward faced Chao again at No.1 singles but was defeated 6-3, 6-0. At No. 3 singles, Houston’s sophomore Neila Starratt suffered a tough loss against Lee, 6-3, 6-3. Lin and Wasson met up again at No. 4 singles, where Wasson was victorious 6-2, 6-1.

The match was in favor of Houston 3-2; the No. 5 and 6 singles matches were the last for either teams’ season to continue.

Houston’s Simpson won the first set at No. 5 singles against Braid, but the Owls won the last two to defeat Houston 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. In the No. 6 singles competition, Houston’s McCombs fell short in the first set but was defeated Rice’s Shiva-Shankar in the second. She had a chance to complete the come-from-behind win but lost in the third set and the match 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

"It’s a little bit shocking. The loss is definitely painful, but I’m proud of how we came out with some intensity, and we played some pretty good tennis," Severance said.

The Cougars ended their season with a four-way tie for fifth place in the tournament. Houston beat Texas-El Paso 4-2 on Thursday to compete against Rice in the quarterfinals.

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