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

The South Florida women’s tennis team hit the court Sunday, hoping the Florida heat would work against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the finals of the Big East Championship tournament. The Bulls upset the Fighting Irish in the finals last season, but came out empty-handed Sunday – falling 4-1 and failing to repeat as Big East champions.

The Bulls finished second in the field of 12 teams after beating No. 9 seed Syracuse on Friday and No. 2 seed Louisville on Saturday.

“We fought very hard today. It was a tough match to lose for the girls, but they fought very hard,” coach Agustin Moreno said.

The Bulls lost early, dropping the doubles point, which proved to be costly during the singles point.

“I didn’t think that losing the doubles point would be that bad, but it would have helped us in the end had we won it because we had close matches in the singles,” Moreno said.

The Bulls had hoped to use the early morning heat to their advantage, but it didn’t seem to have the desired effect.

“We did want the heat for our advantage,” Moreno said. “We practice and play in it all year, but today it did not help like it has before.”

The standout season was not lost on the Bulls, who still have a chance at making the NCAA tournament for a second straight year.

“I think we will get in the NCAA (tournament),” Moreno said. “I think we’re very ready. We lost to a very tough team here today and I think it will help us in the long run.”

This loss the Bulls took was in their third straight championship appearance and they hope to use it to improve the team.

“I am very proud of our team. We did very well,” freshman Janette Bejlkova said. “Even though we lost, every match was so close. We played them very long. I appreciate our team and I am very proud of them.”

Norte Dame came into their 12th consecutive conference championship match as the No. 1 overall seed, with a No. 18 ITA national ranking. This was the third straight year the Bulls faced the Fighting Irish in the Big East Championship match, with Notre Dame holding a 2-1 series advantage.

For the Bulls to make the NCAA Championships – which begin May 9 – they will need to receive one of the tournament’s at-large bids.