The USF men’s tennis team suffered back-to-back losses on the road after falling to No. 5 Florida Thursday. The Bulls dropped the match in Gainesville 7-0 after losing all three doubles and forcing only one singles match into a third set.
“You have to keep your level up. If you drop your level just a fraction against a top-10 team, you are going to pay for it,” USF coach Don Barr said.
Barr’s worst fears were realized when his team dropped the doubles point, allowing Florida to gain momentum and get out into the lead.
Paco Antelo and Renato Silveira lost the No. 1 doubles matchup 8-6, and the other two matches were lost 8-6 and 8-4, giving the Gators the lead and a head start, something Barr was adamant about preventing.
“It’s not a big deal. It’s just the beginning of the season. We have the whole season in front of us,” Antelo said.
Even though it was a 7-0 loss, the matches were close, the sets were long and the games went back and forth.
However, it was a far cry from last year’s matches against UF. Both meetings ended in 4-3 wins for Florida, including USF’s season-ending defeat in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Although disappointed, Barr felt his team played hard and was competitive.
“We had a real good battle,” freshman Federico Barton said.
Barton was the only Bull to force a third set. He lost the first set 6-4 and won the second set 6-3 before falling in the third set 6-2. He said he lost concentration and the pumped-up crowd helped UF play aggressively.
Uli Kiendl, playing at the No. 1 position, lost the first two sets 6-4 and 6-2 after Antelo lost his match 7-5, 6-1.
The Bulls have lost the last two road games to top-10 teams, but Barr felt as though Thursday’s game was much closer than the one they lost 7-0 in Mississippi Monday.
USF has to put this game behind it as the team gets ready for Florida A&M Sunday. Barr said his team put up a fight and belonged on the court with the Gators.
“We are not a top 10 now, but we are capable of being that top-10 team,” said Barr.