The USF men’s tennis team received a spark from an unexpected source last weekend at the USF Spring Invitational. It was Fredy Barton, not No. 27 ranked Uli Kiendl, who completed the tournament undefeated in singles play. For his effort, Barton was named Conference USA Player of the Week Wednesday.
Barton’s play will help improve his position in the Bulls lineup while also upping the level of play from his teammates, coach Don Barr said.
“That’s what we need, to have someone step up and surprise us to make us a much stronger team,” he said. “We have some very high-level players and the key is to get someone who hasn’t been playing a high level who can go up and play at a higher level than (the players) that we have. We are making progress.”
The rest of the team will now look to match Barton’s intensity and push themselves to work harder,” Barr said.
“Hopefully with Fredy getting his level higher, that is going to encourage the (other players) to play at a higher level,” Barr said. “I think it shows that everyone is going to be scrambling to play as high as they can in the lineup. It shows that Fredy is making that push.”
And while Barton is being praised, Kiendl is losing respect, at least that of the intercollegiate Tennis Association. Kiendl went into the Spring Invitational ranked No. 27 in the nation but dropped to No. 69 in the latest poll.
“They weren’t kind to (Kiendl). He just has to not worry about the rankings,” Barr said. According to the coach, the rankings have more to do with politics than the ability of players.
“He needs to come out, starting with the Miami match, and start getting his game up to where he knows he can play and let the politics and the voting go.”
In the latest ITA team rankings, USF was ranked No. 34 in the nation. Barr said he thinks the team will move up in the rankings, but with the team finishing the fall 30-35 in singles and 12-4 in doubles he understands why the ranking is so low.
The coach said he wants his team to work hard and improve this spring in spite of the tough schedule.
The Bulls will face six teams ranked in the top 30, including No. 3 Florida and No. 6 Mississippi. Half of the team’s 18 regular season matches are against top-50 ranked programs, not to mention possible C-USA tournament match-ups against No. 16 Tulane and No. 18 TCU.
“Thirty-four is a good ranking for sure, but were not going to be satisfied to end up there,” Barr said