Bulls garner national respect

Even before its first match this weekend, the USF men’s tennis has something to boast about. Three individuals and a doubles pair have been nationally ranked in the preseason by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

“I think (the rankings) mean a lot to the players,” USF tennis coach Don Barr said. “It is a goal they try to achieve.”

Junior Uli Kiendel will begin the fall season ranked 27th in the nation, while Paco Antelo and Karim Benmansour, both seniors, will start off ranked 53rd and 66th respectively. Antelo and junior Renato Silveira will pair up on the court Friday, ranked 15th in the doubles category.

“This may be the first time that we’ve had three guys ranked in the national rankings top 100,” said Barr, who’s team is ranked No. 38 by ITA. “That is a good sign to show that we have a good, deep team — I am very proud of that fact.”

Kiendel, who played in the No. 1 position last season, posted a 12-8 dual match record in 2002-03, including a match victory against Georgia’s Bo Hodge who was ranked 4th in the nation at the time of the match.

“He undoubtedly finished strong last year,” Barr said. “He beat the No.4 player in the country (and) the No.13 player in the country, so he definitely finished on a very good note for sure.”

Antelo also posted a good record of 12-8. In the No. 2 spot on the team, Antelo helped the Bulls move on to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season when he knocked off Georgia’s Nicolas Boeker in three sets. Antelo, with Silveira, boasted a 14-5 record last season playing in the No. 1 doubles spot.

“They really communicated well, they helped one another when they weren’t playing well and they stayed and believed in one another, and (those are) the keys to really developing a good doubles team,” Barr said.

Benmansour, a transfer student from Kentucky who had a 16-9 dual match record last season, will be playing this season for the Bulls. In a weird twist of fate for the junior transfer, Benmansour will immediately face his former teammates when USF travels to the Kentucky Invitational this weekend.