Bulls seek end to slide

The No. 48 University of South Florida men’s tennis team looks to break a three-game losing streak when it faces the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes Saturday at noon on the Varsity Tennis Courts.

This match is as big as they come. In a matter of weeks, USF has been dropping in the rankings rapidly, plummeting from 24th to 48th.

Just one month ago, the Bulls seemed close to breaking into the top 20. Today, the Bulls (11-6) aren’t worried about the rankings as much as they are about getting a win and breaking their current slide. Miami, however, is a major hurdle that might get in the way of that accomplishment.

In their last meeting, the Bulls pulled off a 4-3 win in Miami in 2002 to beat their in-state rival, returning the favor after the Hurricanes bested USF 4-3 in 2001 in Tampa.

What does a win do for the Bulls against Miami?

The Bulls could enhance their chances for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Being ranked No. 48 in the country, the Bulls are currently sitting on the bubble, and a loss would make it harder for them to earn the at-large bid and put pressure on USF to win the Conference USA Tournament in Milwaukee to get the conference’s automatic berth.

“Right now, we are on the bubble for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and a win against a top 20-25 team would make it a lot easier to earn that bid,” USF coach Don Barr said. “That’s why this is a very crucial match. We want to go undefeated the rest of the season and not hold anything back so we can be ready to reach our goal of going to the NCAA Tournament.”

In USF’s favor is that the match is at home, where the Bulls have run up an impressive 11-1 record. However, the lone defeat came in the Bulls’ last match, a 5-2 setback March 25 against No.19 Auburn.

“My guys are ready to pick up their game another notch and work twice as hard as they have been,” said Barr. “We’re going to fight hard against Miami and find a way to beat them. Hopefully, there will be a nice crowd to get the guys excited to go out and continue to win going into the C-USA Tournament.”