Ellis leads team in first dual match of year

Will Anderson

Texas begins its spring dual-match season Saturday versus Rice after a successful individual season saw the Longhorns rise as high as No. 16 in the nation.

At the Penick-Allison Tennis Center this weekend, the Longhorns welcome the Owls, who swept Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 7-0 on Tuesday.

Sophomore Aeriel Ellis, No. 8 in the ITA preseason rankings, leads Texas into the dual match and will be the team’s top singles player. Ellis was the Big 12 freshman of the year in 2010. She also teams up with junior Krista Damico in the squad’s top doubles pair, which will face Ana Guzman and Rebekka Hanle of the Owls early Saturday afternoon.

“It will be a good early test for us, and we look forward to the challenge,” said Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt about the trip to Austin.

Texas has already faced some Rice players in fall’s ITA Regional, when Kim Anicete defeated Texas’ Maya Zein-El-Abdin in straight sets. Anicete currently plays in the Owls’ fifth singles spot and will likely face Elizabeth Begley or Caroline Larsson this weekend. The Longhorns are 3-0 versus Rice since 2008 with a combined score of 17-3 against the Owls.

Texas begins its long road to the Big 12 Championship this weekend with the first of nine dual matches on the non-conference slate and its first test of the team season.