Amid controversy and a change of courts, the USF men’s tennis team beat the Tulane Green Wave to win the Conference USA Shootout late Sunday.
In the final of the intra-conference tournament, USF took on rival Tulane in an intense day of tennis. Due to the weather and the condition of the courts, the matches were pushed back three hours to a 4:15 p.m. start time. The delay also forced the cancellation of the doubles matches.
In the No. 1 singles, sophomore Uli Kiendl took on No. 17 Michael Kogan of Tulane. In the first set, Kogan easily defeated Kiendl 6-1. In the second set, controversy erupted when Kogan complained to the umpire that Kiendl was taking too much time to get ready to receive the serve. He told the official Kiendl should be ready when he is.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association rules clearly state that there can be 25 seconds between points, unless otherwise noted. The umpire in the chair stated that she was counting the seconds between points and that at no point the time exceeded 25 seconds.
Despite all the controversy, Kogan went on to defeat Kiendl in the second set 7-5.
After Kiendl lost in a tough match, his teammate, Renato Silveira, was playing an even tougher match. Silveira forced a third set against Victor Romero in the No. 2 singles, which proved to be climactic. With Silveira winning 4-3 in the third set, there was a request to change the official in the chair because of bad line calls.
The official in the chair was replaced, and two extra officials were placed on the baselines to confirm close calls. Barr said after the match that the official wasn’t paying very close attention to the lines and it wasn’t fair to either opponent to lose because of a bad call.
With tempers flaring and colorful words flying from both teams, play was finally stopped at 6:25 p.m. due to lack of light on the Varsity Tennis Courts.
Before play was postponed, Silveira took Romero to match point twice, but Romero won both points, forcing play to be moved to the Andros tennis courts.
At the Andros tennis courts, Silveira eventually got his match point to take the third set 6-4 and win the shootout for the Bulls, 4-2.
“It seemed that everything was going against me,” Silveira said. “I was down 2-1, and from then on, I started playing better. And thank God I could finish and get this big win for USF.”
Silveira’s teammates watched shoulder-to-shoulder, cheering their teammate to victory.
“It was great to see everyone come together and cheer on Renato,” Barr said. “He showed the leadership skills he is capable of, and he also showed tremendous heart in fighting hard for his school and his teammates.”
In the No. 6 singles, senior Jorge Escallon played Jorge Lievano, a close friend and fellow Colombian.
“It was definitely exciting to play Jorge,” Escallon said. “He couldn’t handle my short slice, which helped me roll to a 6-4, 7-5 victory, which we saw later on in the night that we desperately needed.”
In order for USF to advance to the finals, the Bulls had to beat Memphis, which beat Marquette in the first round Friday.
The Bulls came out strong in their first day of competition, beating the Tigers 5-2. South Florida set the pace, as it won all three doubles matches, by scores of 8-2, 8-4 and 8-3.
“We started really strong and really tough,” junior Paco Antelo said.
Antelo and Silveira played No. 1 doubles, earning the point with an 8-2 win against the Tigers’ Ben Stapp and Joe Schulian.
“This is a good comeback from our last match against Ole Miss (an 8-6 loss Jan. 27),” Silveira said. “We beat the No. 12 doubles team in the country, which has to say something about our level of play.”
Coming off the three doubles wins, the Bulls didn’t seem to let up on the Tigers as they cruised through their singles matches.
Escallon took care of his opponent in two sets, 6-0, 6-2.
“I played my game from the very beginning and never really gave my opponent a chance,” Escallon said. “I need to keep up this level of play and stay aggressive.”
In one of the most impressive matches of the day, Kiendl took care of Stapp in the No. 1 singles. Barr said he was impressed with the leadership skills Kiendl possessed.
“That’s what we need out of our No. 1,” Barr said. “We need someone who will step up and take charge.”