Bulls win, then get blown away

The USF women’s tennis team was able to end its two-game slide Saturday against Georgia Southern, but No. 28 Miami’s visit Sunday put a quick end to the Bulls’ winning ways.

After breezing past Georgia Southern 7-0, the Bulls watched a Hurricane blow through Sunday, and only top seed Natalie Schwartz was left standing.

Schwartz claimed the first set 6-3, but a disastrous second set evened her match with Miami’s No. 1 Mari Toro, ranked 69th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Neither Schwartz nor Toro could gain an upper hand in the decisive set as the two traded points, forcing a tiebreaker. Schwartz decisively took the tiebreaker 7-3, giving the Bulls’ their lone point in a 6-1 loss to Miami (6-0) and upping Schwartz’s record on the year to 4-1.

“(Natalie) has really stepped up for us,” USF coach Sherry Bedingfield said. “She has a whole new look out there. She could always hit with the best of them, but now she’s making the right decisions.”

Another positive note on the Bulls’ weekend was the return of Jackie Spicijaric to singles play. Spicijaric, a fifth-year senior who redshirted last year with a back injury, played both singles and doubles for the first time this year Saturday against the Eagles. Spicijaric took out GSU’s Sally Williams in straight sets at No. 6, then teamed with Ashlee Callahan at No. 3 doubles for an 8-0 victory.

“I was anxious,” Spicijaric said. “I got some cobwebs out, and hopefully my back will allow me to do both. We’ll have to see day-by-day.”

The Bulls handled the Eagles (1-2) with ease Saturday, with no player so much as dropping a set in singles. Amy Bartlett took Schwartz to a tiebreaker in the second set, but no other Eagle could get closer than 6-3. Genevieve Houle eliminated Sarah Iqbal 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2, and redshirt freshman Patricia Kolendo was equally impressive in defeating Charlotte Bruneteaux 6-0, 6-3 at No. 4. The Bulls (2-3) didn’t even need to play Jennifer Sinclair, who sat out both of this weekend’s matches with strep throat.

“I love competition,” Bedingfield said. “I had fun because we were competitive in both matches, even if the score doesn’t show it. We played bad against UCF (a 6-1 loss Feb. 11). I felt much better today, and the team showed more belief in themselves. We had people in new positions and new roles, and once we can solidify the lineup, we’ll start to get comfortable.”