USF coach Don Barr wanted a tough schedule this season, and that’s just what the Bulls have this week.
The men’s tennis team faces its first Big East opponent, St. John’s, today at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts at 2 p.m.
The Red Storm is one of four teams USF will compete against in a week’s span. The
No. 50 Bulls (6-4) defea ted No. 48 Radford (7-2) on Tuesday.
“There are so many matches,” Barr said. “I think it will be good for us to get into a rhythm of playing. I think by the time we get through these four matches we’ll be a lot further along in our level of play.”
USF has defeated St. John’s (4-4) the last two years in the regular season.
Barr said today’s match is important for the Bulls’ chance at a Big East championship.
“Being a conference match, we want to try and fight for that high seed,” he said.
South Florida faces No. 33 Miami (5-4) at home Friday at 2 p.m. Last year’s match against the Hurricanes was postponed because of inclement weather, but Miami defeated the Bulls the two previous seasons.
Junior Thomas Estrada said the Bulls are determined to beat the Hurricanes this year.
“We’re going to have more intensity,” he said. “We have the motivation that we’ve always been close, and this time it’s our home.”
A large crowd is expected for Sunday’s match against No. 70 Florida Atlantic. USF Athletics has chosen the match as “tennis recognition day.”
“I think there’s going to be a lot of people here,” Estrada said. “The support is going to help us. The whole team is motivated … I think this is the best chance we have.”
Estrada said he expects a tough match against FAU (10-4) because the Bulls have defeated the Owls for the last two years.
“Sometimes you feel like, ‘OK, we’ve been beating them,’ so you’re kind of relaxed,” he said. “But at the same time you’ve got to be focused, because the other team has the mentality that they won’t be beaten again. We have to watch out for that.”
The Bulls’ No. 1 player, Lucas Jovita, was unable to play Tuesday but is expected to play this weekend. Jovita is ranked No. 62 in singles. Freshman Wael Kilani, No. 96 in singles, replaced Jovita.
Estrada said the Bulls are glad to play four consecutive matches at home.
“We’re more comfortable here because we have the support of the people,” he said. “This is our home court, so we cannot (lose) a match.”