Playing in front of the largest crowds the USF women’s tennis team has seen all year, the Bulls were able to knock off the Maryland Terrapins before losing to the Florida Gators on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament. The competition was held in Gainesville, and after shutting out Maryland 4-0 on Friday, the crowd was a factor in the Gators’ 4-0 win.
“There was a large crowd watching us, which is different than what we’re used to,” coach Agustin Moreno said. “Unfortunately, we were in the same bracket as Florida. Along with Stanford, (the Gators) are (one of) the best teams in the country. Playing at home gave them a big boost.”
Sophomore Courtney Vernon defeated Marianne Baker of Maryland 6-2, 6-1 and extended her unbeaten streak to 20 matches. Vernon agreed that the large crowd played a factor in the loss to Florida.
“Definitely against Florida it was a little nerve-wracking,” Vernon said. “I think that we competed well, but everyone was playing tight, and that affected the outcome.”
In his first season as head coach, Moreno led USF to a 14-4 regular-season record. The Bulls had the second-best regular-season record in the Big East, finished as runners-up in the conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years. The victory over Maryland gave USF its first-ever tournament win in women’s tennis history. He feels that all eyes will be on his program next season.
“I think we are on the right track to becoming a top-10 team,” Moreno said. “I really think that USF is going to be one of the best teams in the nation. Other coaches have told me that as well.”
“(Playing in the tournament) was a good experience for us; will only make us stronger for next season,” Vernon said. “(Moreno) has set the bar high, and we are going to have to play really well if we are going to meet his expectations.”