The ultimate confidence builder
Last week, USF pulled off quite an upset.
The USF women’s tennis team played the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators, and while the Bulls couldn’t manage to come away with the win, one player succeeded in pulling off the biggest upset in recent USF tennis history.
Junior Neyssa Etienne scored the Bulls’ only point of the match when she defeated Florida sophomore Diana Srebrovic, the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player in the nation.
Srebrovic attained the top ranking in the country after compiling a fall season record of 17-2 en route to winning the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Championships. Srebrovic won all five matches in straight sets to take home the title.
Coincidentally, the tournament was also the first time Etienne saw Srebrovic play.
“We saw her play at the National Indoors, where she won,” coach Augustin Moreno said.
“Neyssa and (Gabriela Duch) went there as a doubles team, and we knew (playing her in the spring) would be hard, but with Neyssa we always had the confidence that she could beat anybody.”
Going into the match against the Gators, Etienne was well aware of Srebrovic’s talent but was more excited than nervous. She wouldn’t allow her opponent’s lofty ranking to affect her confidence.
“Well, she’s (ranked) No. 1, so of course she’s good,” Etienne said. “I was just excited. I mean, I didn’t have anything to lose. I just wanted to go out there and have fun and just play and, you know, win.”
Etienne started the match off strong by defeating Srebrovic 6-2 in the first set, but after Srebrovic rallied back with a 3-6 victory to tie the game in the second set, Etienne knew that she would have to stay focused to come away with the win.
“At any moment, you know she can come back and win the match,” Etienne said. “I knew I just had to stay focused and just play my game and try not to let her dictate the points. I kind of let her dictate the points in the second set, so (in the third) I just started focusing again and playing my game.”
Etienne came back to defeat Srebrovic 6-2 in the third set to clinch the victory.
Although Etienne boasts a long tennis career including representing her native country Haiti in the 2000 Olympics, this is only Etienne’s second season in her collegiate career.
Moreno feels the win will certainly help build Etienne’s confidence.
“I think it’s a great win,” Moreno said. “What Neyssa needed was to get a good win to build her confidence up, and she got it in that match.”
Etienne agreed with her coach, adding she now knows she can play well at the college level.
“I know I can play at a high level; it was just a matter of time and, you know, getting my confidence back before I was playing at that level,” Etienne said. “I’m just happy I beat her, and hopefully I’ll keep on winning and playing good.”