Don Barr didn’t want to put any extra pressure on his players. The USF men’s tennis coach knew that a victory against instate rival and 42nd-ranked Florida State would tie him for the most coaching victories in school history, but he didn’t tell his players that before the match.
Instead, Barr reverted to his normal coaching tactics that have led to the Bulls’ great success for the past nine seasons under Barr.
“I did not tell the players about it (the record) at all,” Barr said. “Besides, the record’s not going to win matches for you. Focus and commitment are what wins matches.”
The Bulls (7-2) had recently struggled to build momentum after strong doubles performances during the past month. Both losses (Florida and Tulane) came as a result of the Bulls being outplayed in singles play despite winning the doubles point to start both matches.
But that was not the case in the windy conditions Saturday at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts as the No. 35 Bulls defeated the Seminoles 6-1.
“I told the guys it was going to be a mental game today,” Barr said. “The wind can either break you down, or it can help you win.”The Bulls started the afternoon by taking two of three doubles matches to earn a 1-0 lead. The key victory was by Dan McCain and Martin Wetzel as they teamed to win 8-3 vs. FSU’s Mat Cloer and Xavier Luscan, ranked No. 25 in doubles.
“From the beginning of the day, I felt very confident,” Wetzel said. “I had to refocus against him (Luscan) because he is their No. 1 player.”
And refocus Wetzel did. The sophomore, ranked 62nd in singles, took the momentum from beating Luscan in doubles play into his singles match with the 53rd-ranked Luscan and defeated him soundly 6-2, 6-4. It was Wetzel’s first match at No. 1 singles this spring.
McCain also took the momentum from the doubles match and ran with it, defeating FSU’s Romain Jurd 6-4, 6-1, in straight sets at No. 2.
At No. 3, the Bulls’ Paco Antelo, ranked No. 65, defeated Cloer in straight sets as well 6-2, 6-4.
“They’re a good team, and it’s a strong win for us,” Barr said. “We almost made it 7-0.”
The lone defeat came at No. 6 singles as FSU’s Gustav Bucht came back to defeat the Bulls’ Nadim Naser 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Barr is now tied with Bill Perrin for the USF record at 145 career victories. Perrin coached at USF from 1981-89.
His players will look to give Barr the record all alone this Saturday at home against Pacific.