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Men’s tennis hosts Panthers

Forget about the rankings — coach Don Barr just wants an “A” in tennis.

That’s Barr’s philosophy as the No. 37 Bulls host Georgia State at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts on Sunday.

“Anybody can beat anybody on a given day,” Barr said. “We’ve got to make our standards high.”

Barr sought a tough schedule this season. So far the Bulls have remained in the top 55 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

To get back into the top 25, Barr said the squad needs improvements.

“We’re not at the level that we’ve been playing at in our doubles,” he said. “(Georgia State) has a very good doubles team. We’re going to have to be ready for that.”

The Panthers (0-2) are led by senior Nejc Podkrajsek. Like the Bulls, they have welcomed five new players this year.

USF senior Mahmoud Hamed said USF is staying focused on a tough weekend.

“We just have to play against every team as if they’re ranked in the top 10,” he said. “Whenever we take it easy, we’re going to lose.”

USF comes home after two weekends of road games in Texas and Arizona. The Bulls defeated No. 16 FSU in their last home game Jan. 19.

“It was difficult playing away,” Hamed said. “The people watching us make it more comfortable.”

USF and Georgia State have already met this season in an exhibition match. The Bulls defeated the Panthers 3-1.

“We have a good chance, but it’s always different the second time you play somebody,” said freshman Mark Oljaca. “They’re going to know what to expect, and we’re going to have to play just as hard as we did against the other teams if we want to beat them.”

 At the start of the season, Barr said he focused on teaching the freshmen about Division I competition.

 “(Georgia State) is stepping in our territory,” he said. “The freshmen are learning this is our school, these are our courts and whoever comes in is going to have a war on their hands. We’re not going to lay down for anybody.”