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Georgia on their minds

USF will start its singles tennis season this weekend when two of its top players compete in the Southern Collegiate Championships at Athens, Ga.

Paco Antelo and Martin Wetzel will travel with coach Don Barr to the tournament, hosted by Georgia.

The first round begins Friday and will continue through the weekend, with the championships played Monday.

Team members said there are no worries about flying in the shadow of the terrorist attacks more than a week ago.

?I feel right now is safer than before,? Barr said. ?Security measures are a lot better. Right now is probably just as safe if not safer. We cannot live our life in fear.?

Players from Region 3 schools such as Florida, Georgia and Miami, and Region 2 schools like Duke and Vanderbilt, among others, will compete.

The tournament gives Antelo and Wetzel an opportunity to play some top players and move up in the rankings.

Antelo is ranked No. 86 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and will pair with Wetzel to form a formidable one-two punch for the Bulls this season.

?I?m going to try and take my ranking as high as I can,? Antelo said. ?I hope we have good results for the team and prepare for next semester and take the team as high as we can.?

During the fall season, individuals compete to drive up their rankings and add to the team rankings when the season starts in January.

With the knowledge of its two top players hard at work all summer practicing for the upcoming season, the Bulls look to be much improved from a good season a year ago. Last year, the Bulls were 18-8 in the spring and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships.

?We should be stronger this year than last year,? Barr said. ?We were very young last year. I look for us to be a stronger team this year.?

If confidence accounts for anything, this team is set to go with its two stars at the helm.

Wetzel, a sophomore, plans to rely on his year?s experience to aid him this season.

Wetzel went through the regular season last year without losing a match until tarnishing his record in the second round of the NCAA tournament. He also combined with Antelo to reach the NCAAs and didn?t lose a doubles match in the second half of the regular season.

?It?s going to be tough to be better than last year because I was 16-1,? Wetzel said. ?It?s going to be tough to improve the record. I have the experience and know the players. There is no one out there that is unbeatable right now.?

Contact Bryan Fazio at