The USF men’s tennis team started out on a blistering place, winning six of its first eight matches including an advance to the Conference USA Shootout finals where it lost to Tulane. The Bulls seemed on pace to get into the NCAA championships with ease until injury reared its ugly head.
USF’s woes began with a trip to Georgia where a loss against the Bulldogs started a four-game slide unseen by the Bulls the entire season. Now, with the season at a close and their final record at 12-7, the Bulls hope to turn some heads at the C-USA championships in Memphis. USF also hopes to win the event or beat the other ranked opponents to get into the NCAA’s with an at-large bid.
“If we get past Memphis, we actually have two ranked teams in order,” USF coach Don Barr said. “(A victory against Tulane) would move us up, I think, enough to get us into the (NCAA’s).”
The tournament is ripe with opportunities due to the fact that four teams, including No. 4 seed USF, are nationally ranked. That opportunity will not come without hard work.
However, the Bulls must advance, and hope that No. 18 Tulane advances; to at least the third round if they want a shot at a ranked team.
TCU and Louisville, C-USA’s other ranked teams, would not meet the Bulls until the final round, creating a win-win situation for the Bulls if they advance.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better draw,” Barr said. “I am real pleased.”
With a close to the season that is full of bad news, the Bulls are happy to hear that with a seed of No. 4 they will not have to play until Friday, giving their injured players more time to recover.
“I think it’s kind of a blessing, because we need another day,” Barr said. “Hopefully some of the injuries will get a little bit better and we will be able to play our guys.”
The Bulls ended their regular season Wednesday with a 6-1 loss to No. 6 Mississippi, the highest-ranked opponent they have played all season. Despite the loss, Barr was happy that his team competed, including No. 2 player Fredy Barton walking away with a victory against Paul Ciorascu, who is ranked No. 86 in the country.
“I think (Fredy’s win) is kind of an uplift,” Barr said. “We competed real well today and that was important going into Memphis.”