Bulls notch first two wins of season

Two seniors returned in a big way for the USF men’s tennis team this weekend, helping the Bulls win their first two matches of the season.

The No. 35 Bulls defeated Conference USA foe Marquette on Friday and No. 45 South Alabama on Sunday.

Paco Antelo came back for his first action of the spring and won a close three-set match Sunday to give the Bulls their first victory (7-0) against a ranked team this season. He also won his singles match and a doubles match in USF’s 7-0 win against Marquette.

Senior Karim Benmansour also played in his first match during the weekend when he teamed up with Uli Kiendl in a match that clinched the doubles point for the Bulls on Sunday against South Alabama.

USF coach Don Barr said his team played well, and he is happy they came away with a couple of good wins.

Barr is particularly happy with Juan Barragan, who played singles at the No. 6 position. Barragan is undefeated so far this season in match play, and Barr said Barragan is playing very hard right now.

Barr added he likes how deep his team is playing right now with the guys on the bottom playing well and key players like Antelo and Benmansour returning.Saturday’s scheduled match against No. 36 Florida State had to be rescheduled because of rain in the area, and Barr said the conditions Sunday weren’t much better.

“The conditions were tough,” Barr said. “It was cold and windy.”

Barr said he hopes for better conditions this weekend as his team gears up for a couple of tough Southeastern Conference opponents in Auburn and No. 17 Alabama. A good showing could help improve the team’s national ranking.

Bulls turn corner in Monday’s win at Auburn

Women’s tennis coach Gigi Fernandez said she thinks her team may have turned a corner Monday.

After battling back from a tough loss to No. 35 South Alabama on Sunday, the Bulls gained their first win against a ranked opponent in a 4-3 match against Auburn at the Luther Young Tennis Complex.

Fernandez said the competitiveness her team showed Sunday against South Alabama carried over into the Auburn win.

“We got a lot of confidence from the South Alabama match,” Fernandez said. “They were encouraged by the fact that we could compete with such a good team.”

After the Bulls won the doubles point it would take just three singles wins to come out with a win. But Fernandez said with some of the women down a set early, the team needed Marie F. Andrade to pull out a win even though she was battling through an ankle sprain. Andrade won easily though, 6-2, 6-4.

“Battling an ankle injury, Marie came through in a big way,” Fernandez said.

Also winning in the singles were Gabriela Duch (7-6, 6-0) and Fabiana Taverna (6-2, 6-2).

Monday’s win snaps a three-game losing skid for the Bulls (2-3).

Fernandez said the team feels good about how they played.

“Everybody was ready for a win,” she said.

Next up for USF is Florida State in Tallahassee on Feb. 26 at 2p.m.