The South Florida women’s tennis team started what coach Sherry Bedingfield called the team’s learning time this weekend when they traveled to Tallahassee to compete in the Lady Seminole Fall Classic.
“The fall is my real teaching time,” Bedingfield said. “We play a little bit, teach more, play a little, teach more, to get comfortable for the spring in the dual match season.”
The fall season concerns strictly singles matches and rankings. Dual matches and team standings and rankings start in January.
Jennifer Sinclair, who was seeded No. 3 and had a first-round bye, had the most illustrious start of the Bulls, making it to the semifinals of B draw.
Sinclair defeated Karla Mancinas of Texas Christian 6-3, 6-4 and Amber Ly Tantee of Florida State 6-24, 6-2. She lost to Sihem Bennacer of Miami 6-2, 6-2. Bennacer was the overall winner of B draw.
“Sinclair did pretty well,” Bedingfield said. “I think the first tournament we’re trying to work on a lot of new things. New strategies, building the game around (the players) go-to shots.”This year’s team features five seniors, two juniors and one freshman, Patricia Kolendo.
Kolendo, who Bedingfield dubbed the team’s “Baby Bull,” redshirted last year.
Kolendo went 2-2 in the tournament, losing in the first round to Bennacer, defeating Martyne Dallman of Jacksonville in the first round of the consolation bracket, then defeating Amira Samara of Central Florida 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. Kolendo lost in the consolation semifinals to Martina Janska of Auburn 6-1, 6-2.
“She has to learn a lot of lessons,” Bedingfield said. “She has a lot of talent. I think she’s going to help us down the road.”Kolendo also teamed with Claudia Nieto to defeat Janska and Woods of Auburn in the first round of B draw doubles. The pair then lost to Stacey Stevens and Jessica Pelto 8-0.
Also in doubles, Jackie Spicijaric and Jamie Larson lost in the first round to Maria Montoya and Dominique Rosenberg of Florida International 8-6 before charging to the finals of the consolation round.
Spicijaric and Larson had a bye in the consolation bracket’s first round, then defeated Janska and Woods 8-5, eventually losing to Katrin Gaber and Mancinas 8-6.
Spicijaric is only playing doubles in the fall season so she can slowly recuperate from a back injury sustained last season.The Bulls had the threat of an injury striking this year’s team when they had to pull Genevieve Houle out of the tournament after she strained her elbow. She has been medically cleared and will play this weekend.
Houle lost in the first round to Marcy Hora of Miami 6-4, 6-2. Other first-round singles losses for USF were Ashlee Callahan to Marieke Gunawan of UCF 6-2, 6-0 and Nieto defeated by Julie Pecastaing of UCF 6-1, 6-2.
USF will travel to Gainesville Thursday to play in the Florida Fall Classic which will begin play Friday.