In the world of collegiate sports, the past week might be considered a cause for concern for the men’s tennis team, which has lost four consecutive matches.
However, this stretch may ultimately prove to be a defining period for a young team, not only years from now, but later this season. The Bulls (1-4), loaded with freshmen, were scheduled to face four nationally- ranked teams in a row after their home opening victory against Stetson. While the losses look negative on paper, coach Don Barr is optimistic about his team.
“We’re playing better every match. Those are the signs I’m looking for. We’re going to be fine with the wins and losses,” Barr said. “We are starting to compete, our doubles are getting much better, and a couple matches could have gone either way.”
In Friday’s play, USF hosted the Miami Hurricanes (3-1), who were ranked No. 11 in the nation. The Bulls dropped the duel 5-2. Miami swept the Bulls in the doubles matches. The lone points came in individual match wins by freshman Diego Toledo, who defeated Barnabas Carrega, 6-2, 7-6 (6). The other singles win came from Thomas Estrada, who rallied from a first set loss to beat Miami’s Hector Nieto 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Auburn (4-0) visited Sunday, handing the Bulls their fourth loss in a row, 5-2. Even though the final score matched the previous duel, the Bulls had a much better showing. Mahmoud Hamed teamed Thomas Estrada to defeat Auburn’s Alex Schweizer and Pawel Dilaj in their doubles match. The Bulls nearly won the doubles point, but Henning Hipp and Daniel Daudt’s strong start was ruined by a determined comeback posted by Robbert Lathouwers and Lukas Marsoun, who won six unanswered games to win 8-5. In singles play, Toledo lost his first singles match of the year to Auburn’s Alexey Tysrenov. Providing the Bulls’ points were freshman Ales Svigeli, who defeated Marsoun 6-4, 6-4, and Hamed, who controlled his match against Milan Krnjetin 6-1, 6-1.
“Things are not going very well right now,” Hamed said after his victory. “But we have a lot of first-semester players. Our performance and spirit is getting better every match. Everyone did what they could, it’s just tough luck. The wins are going to come.”