Stetson 2, USF 5
The No. 54 South Florida men’s tennis team picked up its second straight victory against a Florida school Friday afternoon, defeating the Stetson Hatters 5-2 at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.
After the victory, the Bulls (3-2) headed to Miami for what was supposed to be a showdown with the Hurricanes, but rain prevented that from happening. The series was postponed and will be played sometime toward the end of the season.
The series against the Hatters was resolved with authority by the Bulls, who saw the return of No. 84 Mahmoud Hamed to the No. 1 spot in the singles rotation. The Bulls also had solid play from the bottom of the order, which ultimately delivered the victory for USF coach Don Barr’s team.
Things didn’t start so well, as the doubles portion of the series was tied at one and the South American combo of Daniel Daudt and Thomas Estrada was in a fierce match against Stetson’s top doubles team. Estrada and Daudt pulled out the victory, winning 8-6, taking the pressure off the Bulls, who then knew they would head into singles play with the lead.
Jamal Adderley and Estrada provided two convincing straight set victories at the three and six spots, respectively, to give USF a commanding 3-0 lead.
Mahmoud Hamed lost to Marcus Echtler 6-1, 7-6 (5), but Michael Nusslein, No. 5 in the Bulls’ rotation, made sure that Stetson didn’t gain momentum, recording a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sergei Boulanov to make the score 4-1.
“I kept the ball deep in the court and forced him to make mistakes,” Nusslein said to gousfbulls.com. “He kept going for the big shot and I knew if I didn’t make any mistakes I would be able to force him to make some.”
Lucas Jovita lost for the first time in five matches and Diego Toledo won at the four spot to close out the day.
The series against the Hatters showed the Bulls that the bottom of the order is reliable, which takes pressure off of Hamed and Jovita. The pair now knows that they don’t need to carry the team’s weight on their shoulders.