The USF women’s tennis team is on a shock-wave mission. Today the Bulls (2-3) will play No. 5 University of Florida (1-0). Although they are not expecting to drown the Gators in the swamp, USF will be looking to play hard and improve individually.
“I’m looking forward to the team competing hard,” USF coach Sherry Bedingfield said. “You never know what will happen.”
Though a victory doesn’t seem likely since the Bulls are 1-40 all time against UF, just having points against the No. 5 Gators would be a great boost for the team. Playing against tough competition brings about a learning experience.
“We have nothing to lose,” senior Natalie Schwartz said. “We are just going to play our best. It will be a challenge.”
Schwartz (4-1) will be up against a rigorous opponent in the singles matches. She will be playing the No. 2 player in the nation, UF’s Jessica Lehnhoff. A few years ago they competed, and Lehnhoff got the better of Schwartz. This time Schwartz is looking for payback.
“I’m really determined to play my best because it’s revenge for me,” Schwartz said. “(Because she’s beat me before) it’s really driving me to want to win.”
Though Florida has a young team, of the six players on the Gators’ roster four are freshman or sophomores, they will still be demanding competition. With Lehnhoff as the only senior, USF has the experience advantage. The Bulls sustained no losses from last year’s roster, while the Gators lost senior starters Whitney Laiho and Stephanie Hazlett. Laiho was the Gators’ No. 1 singles player a year ago, and Hazlett was a solid player at the bottom of UF’s rotation. On the other hand, USF returns Jackie Spicijaric from a back injury that sidelined her all last year. Also, Jennifer Sinclair, who missed last weekends matches with strep throat, will be back in action. With those two players getting back in the game, this will be the Bulls’ second year as a team. They have practiced and played together for some time, which should be a benefit.
Win or lose, Bedingfield knows exactly what she wants from her team against the Gators.
“I am looking for match-by-match improvement from my team.”