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So close: Men’s and women’s tennis finish second in Big East tournament – Men

The USF men’s tennis team had a strong showing in the 2008 Big East Championship tournament. The Bulls made it to their first championship match, but lost 4-3 to No. 1 seed Notre Dame.

A win against the Fighting Irish would have guaranteed the Bulls a spot in the NCAA Championship tournament. Despite the loss, Coach Don Barr thinks his team had a strong enough showing to earn an at-large bid.

“I think we will make it. We did well in the tournament, had a big win against Louisville and showed up strong against Notre Dame,” Barr said.

The Bulls entered the Big East tournament ranked 40th nationally, and swept Georgetown 4-0 in the quarterfinal.

In the semifinals, the Bulls had a more difficult task in Louisville – the No. 38 team in the nation.

The match started off with the Bulls taking the doubles point by winning two of the three doubles matches. The singles matches were tough across the board, with four of the six singles matches going into three sets – including No. 1 seed Lucas Jovita’s match, which he won 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

With the match tied 3-3, the Bulls’ tournament fate was decided at the No. 2 position, – in which senior Mahmoud Hamed had a three-set match against Louisville’s David Simon. The match went back and forth, and with all the other matches finished, it had the entire crowd captivated. When Hamed defeated his opponent 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, he leaped over the fence into his teammates arms and celebrated USF’s first trip to the Big East tournament finals.

After an exciting semifinal match, the Bulls had to find a way to match that intensity against No. 1 seed Notre Dame.

After the tournament, Barr had much to say of his team’s performance.

“The kids fought their hearts out. We were very close up to the end,” Barr said. “It came down to the end and I am very proud of this team. It hurt us a little bit playing a very long match (4 1/2 hours) against Louisville on Saturday. You have to give our guys credit for fighting.”