There is still light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite opening the Conference USA Invite at TCU with a 4-2 loss to No. 41 Tulane, the No. 30 USF men’s tennis team (6-2) managed to sweep past No. 64 Charlotte 7-0 on Saturday, exacting revenge for a 4-3 defeat last spring at the hands of the 49ers in Charlotte.
“They beat us last year, so this win definitely was big for our confidence,” Bulls coach Don Barr said.
“After the loss to Tulane a couple of guys’ confidence level was down.”
One of those guys was Paco Antelo. Against the Green Wave, the Bulls’ frontman, ranked No. 66 in singles, had to go up against the No. 4 ranked Michael Kogan. Kogan took care of Antelo with ease, defeating him 6-2, 6-0.
However, Antelo came back strong on Saturday against Charlotte, first winning his doubles match with teammate Uli Kiendl and then his singles match 6-4, 6-1 vs. Jonathan McGovern at the No. 3 position.
Kiendl also had his problems against the Green Wave, losing a tough singles match at the No. 4 position to Jorge Lievano 7-6, 7-5. And, like his doubles teammate Antelo, Kiendl found relief against the 49ers, defeating their No. 4 man, Marlo Santoso, 6-4, 6-1.
“Not to take anything away from Tulane, but all of our guys did not bring their A-game against them,” Barr said. “But we’re right there, there is no team we can’t play with, especially in the doubles department.”
The Bulls dominated doubles play during the weekend. After taking two of three doubles matches against Tulane, the Bulls started off their flawless Saturday against Charlotte by taking all three doubles matches.
Keeping with the theme, the Bulls went flawless in singles play against the 49ers, not even dropping as much as a set all day.
In the end, after losing their first conference match of the season (Tulane), the Bulls found a way to regroup, find their confidence together and come back strong.
“We talked a lot about that (confidence) on Saturday, how we need to go out and take the match into our own hands,” Barr said. “Regardless of whether you win or lose, it’s better than trying to hang on to the match.
“We’ve got to crave the confidence in our games to play to win and avoid playing not to lose.”
- Chris Lemke covers men’s tennis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org