South Florida missed its opportunity to advance to the National Indoor Championships after a 1-1 record this weekend in regional qualifying at the University of Texas.
The Bulls jumped from No. 40 to No. 28 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings after defeating No. 11 Florida State two weeks ago. However, USF dropped four of five matches to No. 35 Texas Christian on Saturday.
“They played much better than we expected,” said senior Mahmoud Hamed. “They played much better than the ranking.”
It didn’t take TCU long to snag the singles point and defeat USF’s Lucas Jovita and Jamal Adderley. Junior Thomas Estrada got the Bulls’ only singles win.
“I don’t think we played as hard or as well as we could have,” said coach Don Barr. “I think nerves were a part of that.”
No. 15 duo Jovita and Estrada’s match ended when TCU scored the doubles point early.
“We stepped on the court a little bit relaxed,” Jovita said. “(TCU) was ready to do their best.”
USF took a big hit when freshman Romain Deridder, who lost both matches the first day of the tournament, became sick and unable to play in singles on Sunday.
The Bulls played No. 61 UC Santa Barbara, which lost 0-4 to No. 2 Texas on Saturday. The Bulls defeated the Gauchos 5-2 in matches. They lost the doubles point but battled back to win five of six singles.
“I thought it was an excellent effort,” Barr said. “They were losing the doubles point, they could have folded, but they took the challenge and fought hard and came back.”
The top 64 teams played at 16 regional tournaments, and the winner of each regional tournament will compete at nationals. The Bulls had to win both matches to qualify for the NIC this weekend.
The Bulls play No. 48 Arizona and No. 49 St. Mary’s in Arizona next weekend.
“This early in the year, you can’t get too wrapped up in rankings,” Barr said. “There’s a lot of tennis ahead and you can drop down in the rankings as quick as you can get into them. We just have to take care of business and learn from our losses. That’s the key that we have to take out of this tournament.”