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Injuries doom Bulls

The USF women’s tennis team was anxious to face the No. 42 South Alabama Jaguars on Monday.

After rescheduling the match, then having it rained out and rescheduled to its original date, the Bulls got off to a good start, winning their No. 1 doubles spot.

However, the tables turned as the Jaguars’ No. 2 team — with the help of USF forfeitures — downed USF freshmen Liz Cruz and Courtney Vernon to secure the No. 2 doubles point.

With juniors Fabiana Taverna and Luisa Obando still injured, the Bulls found themselves in a do-or-die predicament as they entered singles competition down 3-0. Only 15 minutes into the match, USF’s top three players were in a rut, desperately trying to salvage a win.

USF sophomore Neyssa Etienne was down 4-0 to South Alabama’s Maria Zivicova before rallying to win the first set 7-5. She went on to win the point by defeating Zivicova 7-6 in a tie-breaking match.

“I wasn’t playing my game — I was going for too much,” Etienne said. “I just had to stop and think, and I knew that I had to put her under pressure. And that’s what I did. And it worked. I was just trying to rush too much and I was trying to hit the winner from the first ball, instead of playing a few balls and getting the right shot to hit the winner.”

On other courts, Vernon blanked the Jaguars’ Katarina Palenikova in the second set to force a third tie-breaking set. In the end, Vernon came out on top 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 and kept the team alive.

Sophomore Gabriela Duch started strong, winning her first set 6-4, before dropping the next two 3-6 and 2-6.

“The girls I play are really good. She kept hitting the ball to my forehand and it was hard for me to play the way I should play because I was hurting a bit — my shoulder,” Duch said. “All the points were hard, but I kept missing the small little ending shots.”

The Bulls take on No. 32 Florida State on Wednesday on the USF varsity tennis courts. The first serve is set for 2 p.m.