Usually a trip down on the Bayou represents continuous good times.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, the LSU Tigers were ready to stir up some home cooking for the No. 23 ranked USF men?s tennis team.
The Bulls (12-3) lost to their second Southeastern Conference opponent this year (Florida) and also dropped their first match in eight outings. The unranked Tigers started out of the gate fast and finished strong, defeating USF 5-2 Saturday at the W.T. ?Dub? Robinson Tennis Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
The Tigers got things rolling by taking all three doubles matches to earn a 1-0 advantage.
But the Bulls came back at the beginning of singles action, taking four of six first sets.
However, only two Bulls, Martin Wetzel and Paco Antelo, were able to parlay their first set triumphs into victories.
Wetzel, ranked No. 79 in singles, defeated the Tigers? Peter Richman 6-3, 6-4, at No. 2, and Antelo, avenging his earlier loss to Jason Hazley in doubles, defeated him 6-0, 6-4 at the No. 3 singles position.
Wetzel?s doubles teammate, Dan McCain, was unable to take advantage of his first-set victory, falling to the Tigers? No. 1 Micheal Kiernan, ranked No. 87 in singles, in an energy-drainer 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (11-9), 6-0.
Nadim Naser was the other Bull to take the first set but not the match, falling to Sebastian Rutka 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 at the No. 5 singles position.
?We had our opportunities, but we just couldn?t take advantage of them,? Bulls coach Don Barr said.
In the other singles matches, both won by LSU, Bryan Fisher defeated Uli Kiendl 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) at No. 4 and Cory Ross defeated Jorge Escallon 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-2 at No. 6.
Despite their record, LSU showed that playing against quality competition in the SEC builds character, even for a team on an eight-match losing streak. All of the Tigers? losses in the streak came at the hands of teams ranked No. 21 or higher in the current Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll.
?It was a tough, tough, hard fought match, as it is against any SEC opponent,? Barr said.
?We will definitely benefit from playing these guys when it comes time for our conference tournament.?
The Bulls still hold a 3-1 record against teams currently ranked in the top 50 and will have over a week to prepare for its next opponent, No. 38 Miami, on April 6.
- Chris Lemke covers men?s tennis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org