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Men’s tennis opens the year with a win

USF men’s tennis started its spring dual season Saturday against the Stetson Hatters with a 5-2 victory.

The Bulls squad consists of seven freshmen and it was a great opportunity for them to prepare for the rest of the season.

“It was good to get this before going out on the road,” coach Don Barr said. “They should be more relaxed after today’s matches. We have a lot of freshmen, and for many of the players, it’s their first experience in a dual match. You could see that there was some pressure, but they shook it off.”

Barr collected career win No. 199 Saturday.

The Bulls started the day strong, winning two of three matches in doubles play. Freshmen Henning Hipp and Daniel Daudt defeated their opponents 9-8 (4) and junior Mark Gattiker teamed with freshman Diego Toledo for an 8-5 win. The doubles loss came in a tight 9-8 (3) match where junior Mahmoud Hamad and freshman Thomas Estrada nearly pulled off the win.

In singles play, Toledo made quick work of the Hatters’ Peter Dzuba 6-1, 6-0. Freshman Ales Svigeli defeated the Hatters’ No. 2 player in similar fashion, defeating Filip Kricka 6-1, 6-1. Hamad won his first official singles match as a Bull, 6-3.

Hipp lost his match, but the freshman number one was playing six-foot-seven Hatters’ junior, Marcus Echtler, ranked No. 61 in the NCAA. Even against such an opponent, the young Hipp stood his ground, handling Echtler’s powerful serve and at times baffling the more experienced player, taking him to a tiebreaker in their first set.

In the most exciting singles match of the day, Estrada battled back from a first set loss to Hatters junior Joey Jones. Estrada found his groove midway through the second set, and by the last set every shot seemed to stun Jones. Estrada would win 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.