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Semis unkind to USF



USF fell 4-1 to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Big East tournament Saturday, failing to defend last year’s conference title.

The third-seeded Bulls, who ended the season 8-13, beat sixth-seeded St. John’s in the first round, but lost two of its three doubles matches and its No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles matches to the Irish.

“With this tournament, we knew the level of play would continue to improve (from last year). They have to keep improving,” said USF coach Don Barr.

Without No. 1 singles player Lucas Jovita this year, there were positive signs to the season, Barr said, pointing to close losses – USF was 1-7 in matches ending 4-3 – and the first-round win over the Red Storm.

Jovita, who had surgery on his rotator cuff before the season, should return, and the only graduating senior is Thomas Estrada, who played doubles.

Barr said the team will continue its routine of playing in individual tournaments this summer in preparation for the fall.


By Joel Leventhal, STAFF WRITER

Second-seeded USF looked to move steadily through the Big East tournament, but then Mother Nature stepped in.

The Bulls, who have played nearly all of their matches outside, stormed through the quarterfinals playing on an outdoor court, but rain moved the semifinals indoors, where they fell to third-seeded DePaul 4-0 on Saturday at the South Bend Racquet Club.

“We are an outdoor team,” said Bulls coach Agustin Moreno, whose team defeated Rutgers 4-0 in Friday’s quarterfinal. “Going indoors was very difficult for us because each court was different in terms of speed and consistency. The Big East tournament was much better in Tampa.”

The Bulls (11-7, 1-2) played three indoor matches this season and lost them all.

DePaul (18-4, 9-1) took the doubles point when the No. 19-ranked tandem in the country, Anna Redecsi and Selma Salkovic, came from behind to beat No. 15 Irene Rehberger and Melissa Koning 9-7.

Then, after taking the first set 6-4 in top singles play, Rehberger lost the next two against Redecsi and dropped the match.

The Blue Demons, who played all of their home matches indoors, clinched the victory with wins in the fourth and fifth singles positions.

“I was happy with the way we competed and you have to give a lot of credit to DePaul,” Moreno said. “We battled them, but they are a much better team than we are indoors.”

USF, ranked 24th in the country, was hoping to win its second Big East championship. In 2007, the Bulls defeated then-No. 2 Notre Dame in the final.

But just one year removed from an 8-13 record, USF beat seven ranked opponents in 2010 and will compete in the NCAA tournament, which begins May 14.

“We have had a great run so far this season,” said junior Natalia Guevara. “We are staying positive and are excited about getting ready for the NCAA tournament.”

USF, which was slated to play a consolation match before weather canceled it, will not take the court again until the NCAA tournament.

“We have a couple more weeks of practice and really need to step it up a notch once we take the court again,” Moreno said. “Luckily for us, the NCAA tournament is played outside.”