With revenge in their eyes, the Bulls found a way to stay on course.
Without their highest ranked singles player, and despite a two-week layoff, the No. 34 USF men’s tennis team defeated No. 40 Miami 4-3 Saturday in Coral Gables.
Martin Wetzel (ranked No. 88) was relegated to cheerleader status as his recurring left quadriceps problem would not go away.Fortunately for the Bulls (13-3), Paco Antelo, ranked No. 109, was able to compete. Antelo won a hard-fought three set battle, the decisive match at No. 2 singles, defeating the ‘Canes’ Tomas Smid 6-7, 6-3, 6-1.
“Paco hung in there after losing a very tough first set,” said Bulls coach Don Barr. “But you could see the confidence building (for the whole team) as the match went on.”
Nadim Naser also came back after losing his first set. Naser defeated the Hurricanes’ Joel Berman 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4.
The first set struggles for the Bulls were an aftereffect of the debacle that was their doubles’ performance, as they were swept by the ‘Canes and faced an early 1-0 deficit.
“We needed a match like this to get us back on track after two weeks off,” Antelo said. “It was a tough road match, and it especially helped it was against Miami, an in-state rival.”Antelo, a sophomore, had an opportunity to play in the Davis Cup this week for his home country, Bolivia, but chose to stay here in the States because he would have had to miss the Miami match in order to play the full week of Davis Cup action.
“Last year was the same situation,” Antelo said. “I want to play for my country, but I came here to go to school and play for my team.”
The other two Bulls’ victors were Uli Kiendl at No. 2 and Jorge Escallon at No. 5, both in straight sets. Kiendl defeated Andrew Golub 6-2, 6-2, and Escallon took out Jose Lieberman 6-4, 6-4.
Last year, the Hurricanes defeated the Bulls 4-3 in Tampa on the day Barr had a heart attack in the middle of the match. The match stopped for a half-hour and continued, but the Bulls fell just short. This year, the team was determined to not come up short again.
“Our conference is tough, and we don’t have time to celebrate.” said Antelo, “We take it one match at a time.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Bulls to stay on course.
Up next is a visit to No. 5 Ole Miss.