After a Big East championship in 2008, the USF men’s tennis team labored through a season of adversity in 2009.
The Bulls lost their No. 1 player for the season – Lucas Jovita sat out all of last year with a shoulder injury – and the team went 8-14, losing in the semifinals of the Big East tournament in April.
“When you lose your No. 1 player, everyone has to play one notch higher than they normally would,” coach Don Barr said. “It makes it a challenge.”
But the Bulls return everyone from last year’s team, including Jovita, who should be healthy enough to play when the Bulls start Big East competition in the spring.
“We have Lucas back, (junior) Wael (Kilani) back … (senior) Romain (Derrider) has a very good summer (playing tournaments in France). He’s working extremely hard,” Barr said. “Jamal (Adderley) was another one that was hurt last year. We’ve been taking care of his knees. Hopefully, he’s a full go.”
Deridder, who played the No. 4 singles position last year for the Bulls, finished the 2009 season with a record of 7-10 in dual matches.
Kilani, who played the No. 1 position, led the team in dual-match wins with 12 and overall wins with 24 last year, and was ranked in the top 100 throughout most of the season.
Adderley, who played the No. 2 position, went 5-14 in dual matches last year. Barr said the starting lineup is still a “work in progress.”
USF opens the fall season Sept. 17, when it travels to Gainesville for the Florida Invitational, which is hosted by the Florida Gators, who advanced to the round of 16 in last year’s NCAA tournament.
During fall competition, schools only participate in individual tournaments that decide preseason rankings for the spring season, when Big East play begins.
The Bulls will also play on new courts, which are a part of the improvements to the athletics district being built on campus.
“We’re very fortunate this year. We play, I think, 17 home matches. Those are all going to be advantages for us to make a mark,” Barr said. “I’m really excited about this year with the new courts and everything. The kids are all excited about the facility. We’d like to bring home the Big East trophy. It’s definitely attainable.”