Gators down women’s tennis

The women’s tennis team ended its season in the second round of the NCAA championships this weekend. The No. 32-ranked Bulls opened up with a 4-3 victory over No. 27 Florida International on Saturday, then lost to tournament host and fourth-ranked Florida on Sunday.

The Bulls opened up the tournament by beating FIU, a team that handed USF a 5-2 loss earlier in the season. The Bulls started out sluggish – dropping the doubles point – and giving the Golden Panthers a quick 1-0 lead.

“FIU is a very difficult team to play,” coach Agustin Moreno said in an interview on “They fight for every point and these teams are very familiar with each other.”

In singles play, junior Courtney Vernon lost on the No. 2 court. The loss was only her fifth singles loss in the last two seasons. She fell to FIU’s Egle Petrauskatie in straight sets: 6-2, 7-5.

The Bulls managed to even up the score, getting strong play from Jessica Sweeting on the No. 3 court and Iciri Rai on the No. 6 court. Sweeting defeated FIU’s Shilla D’Armas in straight sets with scores of 6-4, 6-3. Rai also won in straight sets, defeating Nikkita Fountain 6-2, 6-3.

After trading points to knot the match at 3-3, the match was decided on the No. 4 court. Junior Liz Cruz dropped the first set to Marijana Cutuk. However, Cruz dominated the remainder of the match and convincingly won the final two sets for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory.

On Sunday, the Bulls lost their match to the nation’s No. 4-ranked team, suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Florida. It marked the second straight year that the Bulls were eliminated by the Gators.

The Bulls and Gators split the first two matches in doubles play, with both needing to win set three for the opening point of the match. Gabriela Duch and Sweeting tried to rally the Bulls to the first point of the match, but UF’s Csilla Borsanyi and Diana Srebrovic proved to be too much. The Bulls dropped the set 8-5, giving UF the first point of the match.

In singles play, USF dropped their first two points, falling into a 3-0 hole. On court No. 4, Cruz lost in straight sets to Nina Suvak, 6-3, 6-2. On court No. 6, Rai lost a close match to UF’s Whitney Benik, falling in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.

On the No. 2 court, Vernon bounced back from a defeat Saturday to beat the NCAA’s No. 39-ranked Megan Alexander in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (12-10). This would be the only point for the Bulls, as Sweeting lost to Anastasia Revzina in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(7-2). Sweeting’s defeat gave Florida the deciding point of the match.

Despite the elimination, Moreno was proud of the way his team played this season.”We played very well this year, and I think we are going to keep getting better,” Moreno said. “We won the Big East championship this year, and that was great. Next year, we want to finish matches a little better. That way, we can get more points in these close matches.”

The women’s tennis team finished its season ranked No. 32 in the nation, holding a 16-8 record.