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Hurricanes oust Bulls in NCAA’s

The South Florida men’s tennis team’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2003 ended quickly when it lost 4-2 to the No. 19 University of Miami Hurricanes in round one of the NCAA tournament Saturday.

Despite the loss, the Bulls had a strong showing in the match. Miami jumped out to an early lead by taking the doubles point, but USF fought back with two quick two-set victories by Michael Nusslein (No. 5 seed) and Diego Toledo (No. 6) to take a 2-1 lead.

Miami tied the match at 2-2 when USF’s Thomas Estrada (No. 4) couldn’t finish because of illness.

USF’s Lucas Jovita (No. 1) fought hard in his match against Daniel Vallverdu, who is ranked No. 5 nationally, taking the first set to a tiebreaker. Vallverdu recovered and won in two sets to give Miami a 3-2 lead.

Senior Mahmoud Hamed (No. 2) took his match to the brink with a 7-5 second set victory, but lost in the final set to end USF’s postseason.

“We didn’t back off at all. The way we played against a top 20 team at the NCAAs gained us a lot of respect from the other teams,” USF coach Don Barr said.

Barr also said he was very pleased to see all the USF supporters who showed up.

“They had the USF flag out there and they were waving it around; it really kept us fighting hard.”

USF – the Big East Conference’s runner-up – will be returning all of its players next year, including Hamed, who has one year of eligibility left and looks to be a key member in next year’s squad.

“The experience of getting to the NCAAs and seeing that we can compete has made us stronger. Who knows how far we can go next year,” Barr said.

The Bulls ended the season 14-7 and finished the regular season as the No. 42 ranked team in the country. They started the season unranked.

RECRUITING UPDATEThe USF men’s tennis team has announced two new recruits who will join the Bulls in the fall.

Yannick Yoshizawa, originally from Brazil, moved to Jacksonville a year ago to attend Nease High School and won the class 3A state title in men’s singles.

Wael Kilani, originally from Tunisia, finished 2006 ranked 73rd in the World Junior Rankings.

“I think if our new freshmen give us the same impact that this year’s freshmen have, then we’ll be a top-20 team,” Barr said. “I think the new players coming in can possibly help us achieve a Big East championship. That’s the goal.”