Quickly recovering from a blow to its confidence caused by a definitive 7-0 loss to the University of Mississippi, the USF men’s tennis team is concentrating on today’s match against the Florida Gators.
“We had a real real solid practice (Wednesday),” USF coach Don Barr said.
Barr and the team discussed the loss at Ole Miss and were able to put it past them and raise their morale higher and faster than he expected. Hopes were high after a decisive victory against Bethune-Cookman, and according to Barr, they can get back to that level with a victory against No. 5 UF today.
“A win against Florida would be the best thing that could happen to us,” senior Nadim Naser said.
A part of Monday’s loss was blamed on the indoor court environment that the Bulls are unaccustomed to and the fact that they did not have ample time to prepare themselves for the faster pace of indoor tennis. The match against Florida, however, is outside, a setting in which USF is confident and comfortable.
“Outside is where we practice all the time. It is in Florida, an environment we are accustomed to,” said Naser.
Florida will be the second top-10 team in four days that USF will play, and Barr would have liked to play UF a little later in the season so the younger players could get a little more experience. The athletes do not agree. They feel it is an advantage.
“It was the right time. We have a chance to probably get back confidence,” said Sebastian Niedermayer.
The Bulls have a challenge ahead of them. Florida is No. 5 in the country, and the Bulls dropped both matches to them last year 4-3, including a season-ending defeat in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite all the odds stacked against them, the Bulls have a game plan and are confident that it can be competitive.
“The biggest challenge is that we have to play our game and go after them. We can’t let them get on top of us,” said Barr.
Barr is adamant about not allowing Florida to gain any sort of an upper hand. The key to success, according to Barr, is to play aggressively and keep Florida from getting ahead.
“We need to go after them — they can’t come after us,” said Barr.