Plagued with immobilizing injury, the USF men’s tennis team narrowly lost to in-state rival UCF 4-3 yesterday at the varsity tennis courts.
“We had five guys and actually, only four of them were healthy and we still almost pulled it off against a very tough team,” USF coach Don Barr said.
Physical wellness certainly played a factor in the match. The Bulls gave up the No. 6 singles point because Renato Silveira was unable to play due to a quad injury. The doubles point was lost to injury as well, but barely. Paco Antelo wrapped an injured leg, stood in the middle of the court and paired up with Andy Maroldt: the two stayed close with their healthy UCF opponents, but wound up losing.
“We just wrapped his leg and he just stood in the middle of the court,” Barr said. “Andy tried to carry the point in the doubles and almost got by with it.”
After losing the doubles point and forfeiting the No. 6 singles point, the Bulls had their work cut out for them. Injury aside, the Bulls were able to come from behind and tie the score 3-3, which in turn rested the match on Karim Benmansour’s shoulders.
“It came down to Karim’s match and Karim’s got a bad back,” Barr said. “He couldn’t even move when he started the match and he went three sets with a guy.”
Despite the effort, Benmansour dropped the match and the Bulls suffered only their second home loss this season. The loss may drop the Bulls in the national rankings, something Barr was afraid of as it makes their case for an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament weaker.
“It makes (getting into the tournament) a lot tougher for sure,” Barr said. “It depends on how much the other teams have dropped and not dropped (in the rankings).”
The Bulls will have three chances to redeem themselves before the end of the season; UC Irvine at home on Friday at 2 p.m., Jacksonville at home Saturday at 12 p.m. and Mississippi on the road Wednesday. The opportunities will be helpful, but wins will not come without effort, Mississippi is No. 6 in the nation.
As for injuries, Barr said he would try to get his guys as healthy as he can and go from there.
“Hopefully they will live in the training room all night and tomorrow hoping that they can get their bodies a little bit better so they can compete on Friday,” Barr said. “We will just have to play with that scenario when the time comes.”