The South Florida’s men’s tennis team has been trying to work five newcomers into the fold this fall season, came across another challenge this weekend in the Omni Hotels Indoor Championship.
The Bulls, normally outdoor players, had their first matches on an indoor court.
“Inside is more of a serve and volley. Points are shorter, and the condition isn’t a factor,” USF coach Don Barr said. “You have to hit the game harder and go for shots a little more.”
Freshman Juan Barragan was one of two Bulls to advance to the second round of the fall’s final tournament.
Barragan lost to Karim Benmansour 6-4, 6-1 Saturday after defeating Razvan Ille of Tennessee Tech 6-3, 6-2 Friday in the first round.
“The newcomers did fine,” Barr said. “The main thing is they are getting used to the hard court and getting used to studying and playing at the same time.”
With the new faces on South Florida’s men’s tennis team, junior Paco Antelo still remains one of the Bulls’ go-to players.
Throughout the 2002 spring season, Antelo was the Bulls’ No. 1 or 2 player, after overcoming a slow start in the fall of 2001.
Antelo, the No. 11 seed in the tournament, lost to Paul Ciorascu 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 then rebounded to defeat Lewis Smith of Vanderbilt 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(3).
“All of my players are playing at a good level right now,” Barr said. “I look for us to do well.
“He started off slow last year and came back and gained momentum. He’ll be back at his game when we come back in January.”
Two more veterans for USF advanced to the second round as well, with Jorge Escallon and Nadim Naser losing to Jackson/Daniel Klemetz from Middle Tennessee State 8-5.
The Bulls’ duo defeated Finnegan/VanDen Heever of Georgia Southern 8-5 Friday to advance.
Also Friday, Escallon won his first match, defeating Mark Finnegan of Georgia Southern 6-0, 6-3 before losing to Pablo Martinez of Troy State 6-4, 6-4. Renato Silveira also split his matches defeating John Kellert of Eastern Kentucky 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(6) and losing to Mark Dietrich of Tennessee 7-6(2), 6-2.
“The Omni Hotel is probably the toughest tournament in the country,” Barr said. “Our freshmen, I was very pleased with them. I know it is a new experience for them. They got to play some of the top players in the country.”
With the last tournament of the fall behind them, the Bulls will start the team season after winter break in January.
“Positions are all open,” Barr said. “I feel this year there is no one who couldn’t be top six. I just have to figure out whose games are on and who I could use in particular situations. We are deeper than we have ever been.”