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Men’s tennis falls in NCAAs

After winning its first Big East championship this April, the USF men’s tennis team drew No. 19 Auburn — a team that defeated the Bulls in February — in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday.

That defeat reflected this meeting, which saw the Tigers drop USF 4-0 at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center in Tallahassee.

“(The match) was basically a repeat of when we played them earlier in the season,” said Bulls coach Don Barr. “It was close, but we just couldn’t get the job done.”

In all but one loss this season, the Bulls dropped the doubles point. They lost it again on Saturday.

Playing in the No. 1 doubles position, USF’s Lucas Jovita and Thomas Estrada lost 8-1 to the No. 10 ranked doubles tandem in the nation, Alexey Tsyrenov and Tim Puetz.

USF’s Wael Kilani and Yannick Yoshizawa were leading 6-5 in the No. 3 doubles slot when Auburn’s Lucas Marsoun and Alex Stamchev defeated Mahmoud Hamed and Jamal Adderley 8-6, clinching the point for the Tigers.

“The match came down to the doubles point — which is just so important,” Barr said. “If Hamed and Adderley forced a tiebreaker, I think they would have won the match and we would have taken the point and momentum heading into singles play.”

Auburn needed to win just three of the six singles matches to eliminate the Bulls. The Tigers got victories from their No. 3, 4 and 6 positions, putting an end to USF’s 2009 season.

Despite the early exit from the tournament, Barr said he was proud of his team for all of their accomplishments this season.

“It was a really great season,” he said. “Injuries hurt us earlier on but our new players filled in nicely. Overall, I thought our guys did a really good job.”

The Bulls will return all of their players next season except for Mahmoud Hamed, who just graduated.

“I was glad to see some of our younger guys step in and play well,” Barr said. “It shows that we have a bright future ahead.”

The Bulls (14-9) had impressive victories over then-No. 11 Florida State on Jan. 19 and
in-state rival Miami on March 13. And USF won its first Big East championship by defeating DePaul on April 19 at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.

“With a young team it takes a while to learn the system and achieve team camaraderie,” Barr said. “Our new guys gained a lot of experience and I know they will come back strong next year. I’m already looking forward to next season.”