The USF women’s tennis team (2-1) had its first loss of the season Wednesday when it was defeated 4-1 by the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators (3-0) in Gainesville.
The Bulls, ranked No. 44 in the nation prior to the loss, entered the match confident after a pair of decisive victories against Stetson and Central Florida to begin the season. However, neither the Bulls’ confidence nor their two-game winning streak could help against a strong Gators squad that boasts five nationally ranked players.
The Gators jumped out to an early lead when their doubles team of Lolita Frangulyan and Diana Srebrovic narrowly defeated the Bulls’ team of Liz Cruz and Iciri Rai 8-6. After USF dropped the second doubles match 8-0, Florida secured the doubles point, making the match score 1-0.Florida took the first two singles points and raised the lead to 3-0 when sophomore Frangulyan, the lowest of Florida’s ranked players at No. 91, defeated the Bulls’ Luisa Obando 6-3, 6-0 and No. 52-ranked sophomore Whitney Benik bested Rai 6-4, 6-1.
The Bulls finally got on the board when junior Neyssa Etienne pulled off one of the biggest individual upsets in USF tennis history. At the No. 1 singles position, Etienne defeated the No. 1-ranked player in the country, Srebrovic, by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
After Etienne’s victory, No. 63-ranked Florida junior Nina Suvak secured the Gators victory when she defeated No. 96-ranked USF junior Gabriela Duch 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to make the score 4-1.
The remaining games were canceled once the outcome of the match was determined.
Coach Augustin Moreno feels although his team suffered its first defeat of the season, the women should feel proud of how they played against one of the best teams in the nation.
“Well, Florida can win the NCAA (tournament), so if we can play close with them, then we shouldn’t be afraid of any team,” Moreno said. “I feel that our ranking is much lower than where we really are.”