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Doubles matches continue to pose problems for USF

Doubles competition has remained a constant struggle throughout the season for the USF men’s tennis team, and it was a factor again as the No. 37 Bulls fell 4-1 to No. 28 Auburn on Thursday at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.

It was the fourth year in a row USF has lost to the Tigers.

“It’s hard playing with a lot of people,” said USF senior Mahmoud Hamed. “It’s very important to play good doubles with someone. You have to be good friends or understand each other on the court, and it only comes with time.”

Hamed has played with two teammates in his four doubles matches, and coaches have rotated three teams in the No. 3 doubles position.

“The reason for (switching teammates) is not so much Mahmoud,” said coach Tamer El Sawy. “It’s the performance of his partner.”

Despite the loss, South Florida defeated UCF 6-1 on Saturday in Orlando.

Freshman Mark Oljaca and Hamed lost 7-4 in a tiebreaker against Auburn’s Michel Monteiro and Milan Krnjetin.

However, coach Don Barr chose Alex Pukal and Arzhang Derakshani to compete against Central Florida’s Tarek Ben Soltane and Eugene Dolgovykh and the freshmen won 8-4.

“They’ve been playing well. I was kind of experimenting a little bit,” Barr said of Pukal and Derakshani. “I haven’t been real happy with our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles … Our new guys were a little bit hungry and played well all week.”

Barr said the team’s ability to bounce back from losses to win at UCF impressed him.

“They just battled hard and came out on top,” he said. “It was a good sign — a good test of mental and physical character.”