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Tennis earns highest ranking this season

After trying to find consistency in doubles play, things are coming together for coach Don Barr.

The USF men’s tennis team earned its highest team ranking this season after a five-match winning streak, jumping from No. 50 to No. 27 in the  Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

After defeating Central Florida (6-1) almost three weeks ago, USF won four straight at home, defeating No. 47 Radford, St. John’s (4-3), No. 45 Miami and Florida Atlantic (6-1).

“We’re just trying to get our doubles teams stronger and set,” Barr said. “It’s headed in that direction, which I’m glad to see.”

Barr has consistently rotated doubles in the No. 3 position, pitting duo Mahmoud Hamed and Jamal Adderley together in the past five wins.

“Right now, we like our new combinations,” Barr said. “They’ve been doing well … we’ve been experimenting, but I think we’re pretty well set.”

Barr changed the No. 2 doubles position as well. Freshmen Yannick Yoshizawa and Wael Kilani have played together in the last four games, with Romain Deridder out with an undisclosed injury.

“I don’t have any expectations of changing the partners right now,” Barr said.

The Bulls’ only ranked doubles team consists of  No. 27 Thomas Estrada and Lucas Jovita, who have won their last four matches.

Jovita, who also plays in the No. 1 singles position, returned from a wrist injury for USF’s last two matches. Barr said he’s still not 100 percent, though.

“Lucas is not fully recovered, but he is tolerating it right now,” he said. “It’s going to take a while before he is completely healed.”

USF ended its winning streak Wednesday at LSU after suffering a 4-3 defeat to the No. 35 Tigers.

Jovita fell from No. 62 to No. 70 in singles. He has a 6-3 dual record and a 21-8 overall record.

Kilani replaced Jovita as the Bulls’ No. 1 player, winning his last six matches to carry a No. 96 ranking and a 21-5 overall record.

“I feel good. I think I did a very good job against Miami, and I was playing well at LSU,” Kilani said.

Kilani defeated Miami’s Christian Blocker 6-4, 6-4 and LSU’s Neal Skupski 4-6, 6-2 and 6-3. The Bulls host No. 64 New Mexico State (9-5) on Thursday at 2 p.m.