Tennis teams optimistic at C-USA Tourneys

WOMEN vs ST. LOUIS: Noon, Ft. Worth, Texas

Calling Conference USA “weak,” USF women’s tennis coach Gigi Fernandez expects the Bulls to make a good showing for themselves in the 2005 C-USA women’s tennis tournament held in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The No. 3-seeded Bulls face No. 14 St. Louis in the first round today at noon.

“I don’t expect to lose a lot of games,” Fernandez said.

With a win the Bulls would play the winner of Louisville and Marquette on Friday at noon.

USF played three C-USA teams this season, with dominating victories over Memphis and Marquette and a 5-2 loss to No. 14 Tulane. According to Fernandez, the lack of conference play is not a disadvantage.

“It’s definitely an advantage because C-USA is very weak,” said Fernandez, whose Bulls finished 7-7 this season and are ranked 51st in the nation. “If we had to play all the teams in that conference, it would kill my program because I wouldn’t have a strong enough schedule.”

Fernandez hopes the Bulls can make the National Championships. Sixty-four teams are invited, and 33 of those get in through at-large bids based on national rankings.

“We’re on the bubble right now,” Fernandez said. “If we can get to the finals, maybe upset Tulane in the semifinals, we have a chance of making nationals.”

MEN vs MARQUETTE: 2 p.m., Louisville, Ky.

For the No. 6-seeded USF men’s tennis team, 11th-seeded Marquette should be a familiar — and beatable — first-round opponent. But for coach Don Barr, it’s not that simple.

“They gave us a battle last time,” said Barr, whose team beat the Golden Flashes 6-1 on April 1. “They won the doubles point and there were a few three-set matches. In conference, anything can happen.”

According to weather forecasts, Louisville, Ky., will be drenched throughout the weekend by thunderstorms and maybe even snow.

“It looks like the whole tournament might be indoors,” Barr said. “Hopefully not.”Inside or not, Barr is still optimistic of the Bulls’ chances.

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to win and keep our confidence up,” he said.

During the last match-up versus Marquette, USF No. 1 Uli Kiendl didn’t allow his opponent a single game and the Bulls won all five singles matches.

“Kiendl is playing top-notch tennis,” Barr said. “He’s capable right now of beating anybody in the country with the way he’s striking the ball.”

The Bulls, who finished 8-14 this season, welcome back No. 2 player Juan Barragan, who missed the last two matches (both team losses) as his grandfather was seriously ill.With a win over Marquette, the Bulls would face No. 4 seed Memphis Friday at 5 p.m.