Apparently, moving up to No. 28 in the polls was not enough motivation for the USF men’s tennis team.The Bulls were blanked by Ole Miss, 7-0, Wednesday in Oxford, Miss.
From the beginning, the No. 4 Rebels (16-4) were on a mission as they swept the Bulls (13-4) in doubles play to take a 1-0 advantage.
After that, it was inevitable, as Ole Miss is now 13-0 this season when taking the doubles point.
The domination did not end in doubles play, as the Rebels took out the Bulls early in singles play, winning at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 easily.
The Rebels’ No. 4 Martin Selin defeated the Bulls’ Nadim Naser 6-2, 6-3. At No. 5 Ole Miss’ Paul Ciorascu defeated Bulls captain Jorge Escallon 6-2, 6-2. And at No. 6 the Bulls’ Adrian Meier fell to the Rebels’ Claes Lindholm 6-2, 6-3.
Meier was playing in place of the injured Martin Wetzel, who has been nursing a sore left quadriceps all season and was questionable for the match.
Wetzel’s absence meant the Bulls’ were without their highest ranked singles player (No. 88), and they had to bump up their players’ positioning in singles play to make up for his absence. Wetzel normally plays anywhere from No. 1 to No. 4.
The Bulls fought valiantly at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 positions but came up short.
Paco Antelo, ranked No. 109 in singles, gave a great fight at No. 1, losing in three sets 7-5, 6-7(7-3), 11-9 to the Rebels’ Alex Hartman, ranked No. 17 in singles.
The only other Bull to take a set from a Rebel was senior Dan McCain, who will be one of two seniors honored Saturday for Senior Day.
McCain dominated the first set against the Rebels’ Kristofer Stahlberg (ranked No. 52 in singles) at the No. 2 position, taking the set 6-1. Stahlberg came back to eliminate any chance for the Bulls to obtain a point in the match when he beat McCain 6-2, 6-4 in the second and third sets.
At No. 3, the Bulls’ Uli Kiendl was hanging tough with the Rebels’ Catalin Gard before he was forced to retire. Kiendl took Gard to a tiebreaker in the first set, losing 7-6(7-2). Gard received the point for the Rebels when Kiendl retired with Gard leading 3-2 in the second set.
By moving up to No. 28 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls, the Bulls missed out on an opportunity to jump ahead of the only other team in Conference USA ranked ahead of them, TCU (ranked No. 27).
With the conference tournament coming up next weekend in Louisville, USF has just one more chance to move ahead of the Horned Frogs in the polls, and possibly obtain the No. 1 seed for the tournament.
The Bulls return home today to tune up for their match against Jacksonville on Senior Day this Saturday at noon, where they will honor the team’s two seniors, McCain and Eric Gildhorn.
Chris Lemke covers men’s tennis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org