The USF women’s tennis team had a strong outing during the weekend, hosting Florida State and Florida International in the USF Invitational.
The preseason tournament, held at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts, did not count against the participating team’s records. But it did play a part in determining rankings allowing the Bulls to show the nation their abilities.
On Friday, matched up against FIU, the Bulls had good results from their top two players — Gabriela Duch and Marie F. Lord Andrade — who together reached the doubles finals last week in the ITA Southern Women’s Regional.
In doubles play, the two were paired together in the No. 1 slot and beat Florida International’s top two, 8-1. In singles play, Duch lost the first three games, but then rallied to win twelve straight games to take the match 6-3, 6-0.
“Gaby is playing great tennis,” coach Gigi Fernandez said. “She is really good under pressure. She is becoming the anchor of the team, and I hope she can help raise the level of the rest of the girls.”
Andrade also had a good performance in singles play, winning in the No. 2 slot in two sets, 6-2, 7-5. As for the rest of the team, the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams both lost. The Bulls also dropped three out of the final four singles sets. Fernandez pointed to her own decision making as the cause.
“The No. 6 singles was coming off ACL surgery and I wanted to get her some practice,” Fernandez said. “Maybe she wasn’t ready, but that is what the preseason is for. We also mixed up the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles and they did much better on Sunday.”
They certainly did. Against an FSU team ranked No. 50 in the nation, the stellar No. 1 doubles lost a 5-1 lead to lose the set 8-6, but the No. 2 and No. 3 teams won their matches giving USF the doubles point.
In singles play, the Bulls won the No. 3 match, as Fabiana Taverna defeated her opponent 6-3, 7-6 (3), as well as the No. 6, where Talia Romero won 6-2, 6-4.
The singles were all even going into the last match of the day when Louisa Obando put on an impressive performance before yielding in the third set by a slim margin of 6-4.
Fernandez was happy with the way her team held up against such stiff competition and feels confident as the regular season dual meets are approaching.
“We did well,” Fernandez said. “Last year we lost to FSU 7-0, so we have definitely improved. We are still looking into a high recruit who is visiting this weekend. If we can get her, it will make a big difference. If not, we will still be good. As long as we can win the winnable tournaments and steal a few among the ranked teams, we should be able to end up seeded (in the NCAA tournament).”