The USF men’s tennis team is not a top-5 team.
The Baylor Bears are No. 3 in the country with a 17-1 record and showed it by handing the Bulls a 7-0 setback Saturday, USF’s third straight defeat.
“I’m not going to lie to you. Baylor is a good team,” USF coach Don Barr said. “Now that we’ve played another top-5 ranked team, we have a good idea of what it takes to be there.”
Even though the Bears shut out the Bulls (11-6), there were some positives that came out of the team’s first trip to Waco, Texas.
In the No. 1 singles match, sophomore Uli Kiendl forced Baylor’s Benjamin Becker into a tiebreaker before losing the match 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
“Uli played a tough, close match with a player who was an NCAA All-American last year,” Barr said. “He’s starting to show how he is a leader on this team.”
Kiendl wasn’t the only Bull who battled.
Having lost the first set 6-0, USF junior Paco Antelo fought back in the second set, winning 6-3. The Bears’ Matias Marin, ranked No. 31, proved to be too much for Antelo as he won the third set 6-1, taking the No. 2 singles point.
“I was impressed with Paco’s play at the No. 2 singles,” Barr said. “He fought hard to force the match into a third set and is almost back to where he needs to be going into Conference USA play.”
Baylor slipped ace Benedikt Dorsch in at No. 3 against Andres Maroldt, and the top player in the country shut out the USF freshman 6-0 in the first set before surrendering four games in the second.
In doubles, the top USF duo of Antelo and Renato Silveira, ranked 20th in the nation, couldn’t contend with the No. 48 pairing of Becker and Zoltan Papp, which waxed them 8-1.
However, Barr couldn’t express how proud he was with his Bulls up to this point in the season.
“I’m disappointed that we lost the match, but we learned a lot this weekend,” Barr said. “Having six new players is tough on a team, but we are handling it just fine. It takes a year to get everyone on the same page, and we are ahead of schedule.”
Against Baylor, the Bears’ experience and talent came out on top in the end.
“In some of the matches, we were up 40-0, and they came back to win the point,” Barr said. “That’s not because we lost. It’s because they won. We need to learn how to close out matches better. What we need to do is step up our play for the rest of the year, and everything will work itself out.”
Mathew Ratner covers USF men’s tennis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org