In-state battle looms on the courts

Momentum is the key word the USF men’s tennis team used to describe its match with in-state rival, No. 39 Florida State, this Saturday at noon on the USF tennis courts for Faculty Recognition Day.

The Seminoles started the spring ranked No. 56 and on the strength of a 7-2 overall record have jumped as high as No. 37.The Bulls, on the other hand, have slipped a little in the polls this spring. After starting at No. 27, USF now sits at No. 30 and is in need of a big victory.

Perfect time for an upstart rival to roll into town.

“They (FSU) are moving up and are a team we have to shut down,” said USF coach Don Barr.

“We want to show we are the No. 1 team in the state, so it’s a huge opportunity for us, especially with the big crowd that should be out here,” said sophomore Martin Wetzel.

For Wetzel and his teammates, momentum is something that has been in question during the season. The Bulls have had problems taking advantage of their strong doubles efforts and carrying it into singles play.

“We need to refocus our game after doubles play,” Wetzel said. “We cannot be sluggish and relax after the doubles, assuming we get the point.”

But the doubles point might not be a sure thing, as the Seminoles tout the nation’s No. 25 doubles team in Rodrigo Laub and Xavier Luscan. Luscan is ranked No. 53 in singles.

“They are a much deeper team than in the past,” Barr said. “Their No. 3 and No. 4 players are good. It will be key for us to earn the doubles point.”

FSU is coming off a loss to No. 24 Alabama 5-2. The match will be just the second on the road for the ‘Noles, who lost their first road match of the spring at Vanderbilt 4-3.

Meanwhile, USF is coming off a split last weekend at TCU for the Conference USA Invitational in which they lost a tough match 4-2 to No. 41 Tulane Friday, and then turned around and smoked No. 66 Charlotte 7-0 Saturday.

The Bulls also will be returning the services of sophomore Nadim Naser. Naser sat out the singles matches against Charlotte because he fell under the weather due to the cold temperatures in Texas that caught the Bulls off guard.

  • Chris Lemke covers men’s tennis and can be reached at