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Women breeze through season opener

The women’s tennis team kicked off its spring season Saturday with a dominating 6-1 victory over Stetson at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts. In fact, the only point the Bulls surrendered to the Hatters was due to a forfeit. USF was forced to start the match down 0-1 when junior Luisa Obando was unable to play because of a foot injury.

Despite the deficit, it didn’t take long for the Bulls to show they meant business. The doubles team, consisting of juniors Neyssa Etienne and Gabriela Duch, ranked No. 5 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, started off the day with a dominant 8-0 shutout of Stetson’s Mili Milovonovic and Marina Levin.

“Well, we’re very good friends on and off the team and we communicate very well,” Etienne said of her relationship with Duch. “We’ve been playing together for a while now, so we have a good chemistry on the court.”

The doubles point was secured by the Bulls when sophomore Liz Cruz and freshman Iciri Rai defeated their opponents 8-2 knotting up the match score at 1-1.

USF completed the day by sweeping all five singles matches with the first victory coming from Duch as she defeated Stetson’s Anna Leoenko 6-0, 6-0.

None of the Bulls allowed more then three points to be scored by their opponents, including Duch, who prevented even a single point from being scored against her in either doubles or singles play.

Coach Augustin Moreno was pleased with the team’s performance and feels it was a great way to kick off the season.

“Well, I think we were really well prepared, the girls are in shape, and we’re getting better every day,” said Moreno, who secured his first career victory at USF with Saturday’s win.

The Bulls will return to the courts Wednesday when they travel to Orlando to take on the UCF at 2 p.m.

The men’s tennis team competed in its final preseason event this weekend when it played host to Kentucky, Florida A&M and Harvard in the 2006 USF Spring Invitational.

On Friday, the Bulls matched up against No. 21 Kentucky but were forced to play shorthanded without junior Dirk Britzen, who was ill, and senior Juan Barragan, who is still out of the country.Despite the missing players, the Bulls managed to play well against the Wildcats, splitting the doubles point and going on to win three of four singles matches.

On Day Two, the Bulls welcomed Britzen, who is ranked No. 21 in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, back into the lineup when they faced Florida A&M.

After the No. 1 doubles team of Britzen and junior Federico Barton narrowly lost the first match 9-8, the Bulls’ No. 2 team of Barton and sophomore Dillon Brozyna were able to get a win and split the doubles point with the Rattlers. The Bulls went on to sweep all four of their singles matches against the Rattlers to secure the victory.

The final day of the tournament saw USF against the No. 40-ranked Harvard Crimson. After the Crimson managed to win three of eight in singles play against the Wildcats on Saturday, the Bulls swept all five of their singles matches against Harvard on Sunday.

While the final score appeared dominant, the Bulls had to work hard for the win. Both Barton and sophomore Mark Gattiker dropped their first sets by a score of 3-6 before battling back for victories, and Britzen lost his second set before closing out the match with two straight aces in the third.

“Well, all six of (the players) are really competing and going after the shots,” coach Don Barr said. “I can see the level getting better and our confidence getting better, and I think we should be right on track for our opening match against Texas-San Antonio.”

The men’s tennis team will open its regular season Friday when it hosts the University of Texas-San Antonio at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.