Tried as they did, the USF men’s tennis team just could not get past the second round of the Conference USA Tournament Saturday. Battling the Tigers as well as injury, the Bulls had to forfeit No. 5 and No. 6 singles due to injuries ultimately losing 4-3.
“They couldn’t play. They did all they could in the doubles, and after the doubles we tried to see if they could play,” USF coach Don Barr said. “They put everything they had into that doubles point, and that was it.”
“They” were senior Karim Benmansour and junior Renato Silveira, both of whom were physically unable to play in their singles matches. Benmansour, who re-aggravated a back injury during the doubles play, helped his partner Uli Kiendl win 8-4. Silveira was not so lucky, however; he and his partner lost their match 8-4.
“After the doubles, Renato could hardly even walk,” Barr said.
Fredy Barton and Andy Maroldt were able to win their doubles match 8-6, giving USF the doubles point. Winning the doubles point is usually an offensive maneuver, but for the Bulls it was defensive. Instead of starting the singles match with a score of 0-3, they started them 1-2.
The Bulls still had a chance; all they needed to do was win three of the four remaining matches. Barton and Maroldt won at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, but Uli Kiendl and German Escallon were unable to win their matches at No. 1 and No. 4, respectively.
“We are all disappointed. The team we had, health-wise, I believe could compete with anybody in the country,” Barr said. “When you can’t even field a team it gets very tough when you play a good team, and Memphis is a good team.”
If there is to be any hope for the Bulls, it lies in the NCAA Tournament’s at-large bids. Last ranked in high to mid-fifties, USF needed to advance in the C-USA championship in order to increase its chances, but regardless of the loss Barr still has hope.
“It might depend on how the final rankings come out,” Barr said.
Barr, who has not had many problems with injuries since he has been coaching, said he is disappointed but tries to keep everything in perspective.
“We had great expectations, and it’s very disappointing,” Barr said. “We have to face those disappointments and go on and see.”