By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 12, 2002
GAINESVILLE -- South Florida coach Don Barr believes his men's team is hitting its stride at just the right time. And he's happy because he expects the Bulls to need their best play of the season today.
South Florida (18-4) will play No.12 Florida (17-6) at noon today for the right to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
The Bulls beat Miami 4-1 in the first round of the tournament at the Ring Tennis complex. Florida beat Georgia State 4-0 in the second match.
"I think we're playing very, very good," Barr said. "I think we are really peaking at the right time. I see our team being stronger as we go along. I think the two-week layoff was a little bit tough on the kids, and now this first match out, it was very tough to come out and compete at a high level.
"I think (today) we'll be a lot more relaxed, and I think our A game will be there. And it's going to need to be with the Gators."
South Florida opened with two doubles victories. Dan McCain and Martin Wetzel defeated Joel Berman and Tarik El Bassiouni 8-6, and Jorge Escallon and Nadim Naser defeated Andrew Golub and Jose Lieberman 8-4. The Bulls then earned three straight-set singles wins.
"We played them down in Miami, and (won) 4-3. So I knew it was going to be a very tough match," Barr said. "I thought doubles was a very important key for us. Coming out winning that doubles point was really big. The other matches were very tight. And we were down in a couple of sets (in singles), so doubles play was key."
The Gators' victory also was closer than the score reflected. Florida won doubles with an 8-6 victory by Olivier Levant and Eleazar Magallan (who defeated Matias Ormaza and Miha Lisac). Matt Behrmann and Troy Hahn defeated Albano Franco and Nicolas Lupica 8-1.
But the Gators trailed in several singles matches, including at No.4, where Hahn rallied in the second set to defeat Franco 6-4, 6-4.
"The score is extremely deceiving," Florida coach Andy Jackson said. "I thought the doubles was crucial. If we lose the doubles point, we're in big trouble." Florida's Hamid Mirzadeh handily defeated Matias Ormaza 6-1, 6-3 at No.1 singles. Although Florida defeated South Florida 4-3 earlier this season, Jackson said he expects a tough match today.
"I think it's a very similar match to Georgia State, and it could go either way," Jackson said.
"We're not one of those teams that things are going to be easy for. It's going to be a battle, and that's our only chance is for it to be a battle."
GAINESVILLE -- The moment Roland Thornqvist has waited for all season arrived late Saturday afternoon.
The Florida women's tennis coach has said repeatedly his doubles teams had yet to play to their potential. Now he believes they finally have.
Two doubles victories in less than an hour helped Florida to a 4-0 victory over Miami in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The No.1-ranked Gators (21-1) advanced to the round of 16, which begins Thursday in Palo Alto, Calif.
Freshman Alexis Gordon and junior Julia Scaringe started the day by defeating Igna de Velliers and Abby Smith 8-2 in 45 minutes. Three minutes later, Lindsay Dawaf and Jessica Lehnhoff finished an 8-3 victory over Marcy Hora and Mari Toro, giving the Gators a 1-0 lead.
"I'm really happy about our doubles play," Thornqvist said. "Our No.2 team (Gordon and Scaringe) played exactly how we wanted them to play all year long, with incredible presence on the court. If we play (doubles) like we did today, it's going to be very difficult to beat Florida."
Playing in her final home match, Lehnhoff went out strong, beating Toro 6-2, 6-1. Dawaf defeated Hora 6-0, 6-2, and Scaringe defeated Sara Robbins at No.6 6-4, 6-0.
"It has been great here with the fans and everything," said Lehnhoff, the No.1 player in the nation. "I feel really good right now. It's sad to leave, but hopefully, I'll get a chance to play tennis at the next level."
FSU WOMEN: Virginia Commonwealth, No.24 in the nation, eliminated the Seminoles 4-0 in Columbia, S.C., in the first round. FSU won 10 games in three singles matches.
-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.