USF’s young tennis players will get a chance to prove themselves as they make up the majority of this weekend’s starting roster.
The team plays host to UCF and Stetson at the USF Invitational, beginning at noon today. The team’s three nationally ranked players — No. 27 Uli Kiendl, No. 54 Paco Antelo and No. 66 Karim Benmansour — will be inactive as they rest for next week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American championships. The team’s performance will rest on the shoulders of an untested lineup of young players.
In addition to senior Renato Silveira and junior Andy Maroldt, seeded No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the singles bracket, the team will consist of sophomores Freddy Barton and Juan Barragan and freshmen German Escallon and Matias Sigal.
Maroldt will be making his season debut after an injury sidelined him for the season’s first two weekends. The younger players will be facing what coach Don Barr said will be their first big test.
“With (Kiendl, Antelo and Benmansour) inactive, we are going to get a chance to see the younger guys play,” Barr said. “This weekend should offer good competition, and we will see where the team stands.”
The team faces stiff competition in UCF, who Barr said has only gotten better since losing a close match to USF last season.
“We barely were able to beat UCF last year,” Barr said. “And they are better this season. We are their biggest rivals, and it is usually a heated match. Stetson I don’t know as much about, because we haven’t played them much in recent years and they are a new look team this year anyway with some good young players.”
But the competition aside, Barr said he thinks this is the weekend to see if his team could join the nation’s elite.
“To become a Top-20 team in the country, you have to be able to step up in situations like this,” Barr said. “We can’t rely on two or three players all season, and now is the chance to prove the younger guys can step up. And we have no excuses. The tournament is at home where the guys are comfortable. I am really excited, because all of these guys are trying to earn a spot in (the regional tournament), which is of course invitational. This weekend presents them with the opportunity.”