USF Tennis Takes American Athletic Conference

USF's men's and women's tennis teams rally with impressive wins to take home top honors.

Special to USF News

TAMPA, APRIL 21, 2014 – USF Tennis took the American Athletic Conference by storm on Sunday afternoon.

The third-seeded USF women dropped the doubles point but rallied back to beat top-seeded Houston, 4-2, in the American Athletic Conference championship match at the USF Varsity Courts. Just hours later, the No. 26 USF men’s team was declared the American Athletic Conference champion in Memphis after defeating the top seed and host Tigers, 4-3, at The Racquet Club of Memphis.

Three USF teams have won American Athletic Conference titles in the league’s first season of action after the USF men’s soccer team won the conference tournament by edging UConn in penalty kicks on Nov. 17.

In Tampa, freshman Olaya Garrido-Rivas set the tone for the USF women’s team’s comeback by evening the score up at 1 by defeating Tina Rupert, 6-3, 6-2 in the No. 3 singles position. Houston (21-5) took a 2-1 advantage by winning in the No. 4 singles spot, but the Bulls bounced right back when freshman Olga Martinez held off Charlotte Phillips, 7-5, 6-2, in the sixth spot.

Senior Loreto Alonso-Martinez had been one of the team’s emotional leaders all season and she showed her toughness while putting USF ahead in the intense title match by defeating Despoina Vogasari, 7-5, 6-4, in the top singles position.

Vera Bessonova.

Freshman Vera Bessonova clinched the match and secured USF’s 15thconsecutive victory by rolling past Rocio Martin Fernandez, 7-6, 6-1, in the fifth singles spot.

“She was down 5-2 in the tiebreaker and she won a very close tiebreaker,” Moreno said. “She just got control of the match and finished it, it was huge."

The Bulls (18-3) finished their run with a 13-0 record at home and Moreno said the team appreciated the fan support all season, especially during Sunday’s historic win.

“The crowd came and we had different athletes coming in, not only now but throughout the season,” Moreno said. “President Judy Genshaft was here from the beginning of the match until the end. We saw Doug Woolard here, too. The crowd was great and we did what we had to do.”

In Memphis, second-seeded USF (18-6) fell behind, 1-0, after the dropping the doubles point as the Tigers

Oliver Pramming.

won at both second and third doubles. USF’s tandem of Roberto Cid and Sasha Gozun, the 41stranked duo in the nation, were ahead 6-5 over the eighth-ranked pair of David O’Hare and Joe Salisbury at the top doubles spot when the match was stopped.

The Bulls quickly responded in singles action, taking the first three matches to go ahead 3-1.No. 43 Cid took down No. 62 Connor Glennon, 6-1, 6-4, at first singles followed by Federico Sabogal claiming a 6-3, 6-4 win at the sixth spot. Gozun capped the winning streak for USF, pulling out an entertaining 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3) victory over Johnny Grimal at third singles.

Memphis bounced back to knot the match at three all taking the fourth and fifth spots to bring the match to the deciding number two spot.

Oliver Pramming delivered a remarkable comeback after dropping the first set 4-6 to claim sets two and three 6-4, 6-4 and give the Bulls the first-ever American Athletic Conference Championship.

Vera Bessonova.

Cid, who went 3-0 in singles and 1-0 in doubles over the Championship, was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

“I am super proud of the guys for their effort today,” said head coach Matt Hill. “We lost the doubles point and we lost at five singles which we have been spots we have winning out, so other people had to step up. Oliver and Sasha were two of those guys who came back just a week later and beat their opponents after losing to them last week.”

Both USF teams now turn their attention to the NCAA Division I Championships that begin May 9 at designated sites. Third-round action all the way up to title matches will take place at the University of Georgia in Athens May 15-26.