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Mike Nay

The Rice Owls defeated the Green Wave for the second time this season in the Conference USA tournament semifinals by a score of 4-2. Tulane had not lost a match since March 25th to the same Rice team.

“It’s unfortunate to see your season end to a team that has already beat you once during the season,” head coach Terri Sisk said. “But Rice did some things a little better than we did.”

Tulane entered the conference tournament ranked No. 53 in Division I, but after the loss to Rice, the Green Wave now is ranked No. 57 in the nation. This dampens hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

“All of us would be thrilled if we made the tournament, but it’s slim,” Sisk said. “You really have to be within the top 45, and we’re sitting at 57th this week.”

Entering the conference tournament with a six-match winning streak and No. 3 seed, the Tulane women had high hopes and enjoyed a first-round bye. The spirits remained high as the Green Wave beat sixth-seeded Houston in its first match of the tournament in the quarterfinals.

Tulane won the doubles point, an area in which it has dominated this season, winning 20 out of 25 possible points on the year. The Green Wave then dominated the singles matches versus the Cougars in order to advance to its first semifinals appearance since Hurricane Katrina.

Tulane’s doubles teams brought their A-game to the semifinals against Rice and jumped to an early 1-0 lead. Senior Lindsay Dvorak then scored another singles point for the Green Wave to take a 2-0 lead, but that was all they would score on the day. Rice rallied back to win the next four singles points and advanced by a score of 4-2.

“Our plan was to get past Rice and make it into the finals,” Sisk said. “Sure, I think we could have played, but it’s a process.”

Despite the loss, the women’s tennis program took great strides forward this season, finishing with a 19-6 record overall. The Green Wave reached many milestones, including ending its season in the computer rankings after staying there for nine weeks. The Green Wave had not made an appearance in the top 75 in two years.

Excitement is already building for what the team can accomplish next season, and in the future, with four strong recruits in next year’s incoming class and the prospect of a brand new state-of-the-art tennis facility. Tulane will have to rely on younger talent next season as four of its starting seniors graduate.

“This is a crucial time for Tulane women’s tennis because we are graduating four seniors,” Sisk said. “These returning girls are going to have to step up and be leaders by example.”

The team also hopes to draw a greater crowd.

“A lot of kids and Tulane students did a good job of coming out this year,” Sisk said. “We’re hoping that in the future when we have the new facility they will come out, as well.”

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