After winning two matches in wet conditions to claim the Conference USA Shootout, the USF men’s tennis has five straight wins.
With a rhythm established and confidence up, the Bulls have to keep their composure as they meet Georgia State today.
“Anyone we play they’re going to bring their A game, just because we’re ranked,” USF coach Don Barr said. “No pressure on them to play us, so they are going to come out with their best game, and we’re going to have to be ready to play for sure.”
Barr worried that his team was going to get wrapped up in rankings and win streaks. He wants his team to have confidence, but does not want them to focus on where they are in the polls.
“(The ranking) creates pressure if you handle it the wrong way,” Barr said. “If (the USF players) just go out there and battle hard, and let it fall, which is what I preach, we should be OK.”
That fear seemed to diminish after last weekend, when USF emerged victorious from the C-USA Shootout.
“I thought the big test was when Tulane, and also Memphis, who is a very good team, came in, and they were both playing their A games after us, and we come out winning the whole thing,” Barr said. “So I think that they stood up to the challenge — and I think they’re ready. I think this was a big confidence weekend, and we had to go out there with the same frame of mind of just going after teams and playing our game.”
The Panthers are next on the Bulls’ schedule, and are a strong team in all positions.
Barr said it is crucial for USF to get the doubles point in order to build momentum for the singles matches.
“I think (Georgia State) is pretty equal going all the way down,” Barr said. “I think they will challenge with hitting a lot of balls back. They are a pretty fast team. They seem to just really grind away points, and we have to be mentally ready to face that kind of competition.”
Plans and preparation aside, Barr says that his team must play with heart in order to be competitive.
“If we are playing with heart, we are going to beat most teams we play,” Barr said.
Chris Wagenheim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org