After losing two in a row — something it had not done all year — the USF men’s tennis team must battle in-state rival UCF with battered bodies today at the varsity tennis courts.
“Right now we are still kind of banged up,” USF coach Don Barr said.
Four of the Bulls’ top players are battling various muscle pulls and general soreness. Paco Antelo, Karim Benmansour, Renato Silviera and Andy Maroldt, the heart of the USF roster, all are coping with injuries agitated by or stemming from a 7-0 loss to Pepperdine on Sunday.
“We just have to play it by ear, and we will see who will make it and who will not,” Barr said.
If there is a bright side, it is the fact that Benmansour has been battling the same injury (back) all year and has been successfully battling through it, Barr said. Barr also said that Maroldt was in good shape at practice yesterday. As for a back-up plan, Barr said that he has to wait until tomorrow to see how things pan out before the match.
“We kind of have to wait until game time,” Barr said. “We just have to rely on the strength of our team.”
Barr said his team must fight through their injuries and dispatch the Golden Knights if they want to be considered for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Ranked No. 52 in the country, Barr said USF is on the bubble, and a victory against UCF would help their case.
“It is very critical for us to perform (today),” Barr said. “We have to play as hard as we can.”
Despite all of the obstacles in front of them, the Bulls can rest assured they do not have to travel anywhere.
“(Playing at home) should help us fight through anything we have to fight (today),” Barr said.
Kiendl named co-player of the week
USF junior Uli Kiendl was named Conference USA co-Player of the Week after pulling off two upsets against ranked opponents during the Bulls’ two matches last week.
Kiendl, ranked No. 66 in the current ITA rankings, defeated No. 15 Bo Hodge of Georgia in straight sets 6-4, 7-5. Kiendl then paired with teammate Karim Benmansour to post a 9-8 victory against Pepperdine’s No. 18-ranked doubles team of Calle Hansen and Pedro Rico.