Bulls upset Owls

Lucas Jovita, USF’s No.2 singles player, upset Rice’s Christoph Muller with an impressive 6-2,6-3 victory Sunday that was key to the Bulls’ 5-2 victory over the Owls. The Owls came into Tampa ranked 32nd in the nation.

Jovita played a solid match, establishing the pace and winning long rallies. While Jovita was mentally sound and focused solely on his game, Muller seemed to be rattled, constantly questioning the umpire’s calls.

Lucas broke Muller’s serve twice to win the first set. Then, in the second set, Jovita seemed to be as inspired as any tennis player could be on the court.

During one point in that set, he returned three smashes by Muller, who faltered after the third one, smashing the ball into the net.

“I’m a fighter on the court. I run after every ball,” Jovita said.

Jovita jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and then struggled to close out the match as Muller staged a rally to close the gap to 5-3. Lucas stopped the bleeding in time to win the set and the match.

“I relaxed a little bit after I went up 5-0, but I’ve been training very hard for this day and [I feel like] I’m finding my tennis,” Jovita said.

Bulls’ No. 1 one singles player Mahmoud Hamed had to face off against Conference USA Player of the Week Bruno Rosa in a match that was decided by winning key points. Hamed played strong, but an erratic serve and lack of experience prevented him from prevailing in the 7-5, 6-4 loss.

Rosa had some breaks, such as the ball bouncing at the white tape and then catching Hamed by surprise to win the point, but he also proved to be an excellent player.

“Rosa was a very solid player; he didn’t give me any free points. This match gives me valuable experience for the future,” Hamed said. “Things would have been different if I had won the first set. Being broken at 5-5 in the first set was the turning point of the match.”

Jamaal Adderley finished the day with a marathon match against the Owls’ 45th-ranked Ralph Knupfer that lasted more than three hours. Adderley took the match 4-6, 7-6(5) and 10-7 in a third set super tiebreaker.

After the match, coach Don Barr offered his thoughts on the day.

“Rice is a very good ranked team, but we are a team that is young and hungry,” Barr said. “We have to build on this performance and battle every team we play.”