USF men's tennis wins Big East championship
TAMPA -- USF's men's tennis team has brought home the third Big East postseason championship in school history, sweeping DePaul on Sunday morning on the Bulls' home courts.
"I think it's the need, the want, the desire," coach Don Barr said. "I'm from Kentucky, and champions, just like a racehorse, they bury the heart. They don't bury the whole horse. If the heart is big, you're going to be a champion. They all stepped up and did a great job."
One day after needing three sets in every singles match in a semifinal win, the Bulls made quick work of DePaul, winning the doubles point for an early lead. No. 6 singles player Thomas Estrada was the first to win, prevailing 6-3, 6-2, and then attention shifted to the top two seeds, playing on adjacent courts.
Top seed Lucas Jovita, serving for the match, clinched his 6-1, 6-4 victory with an overhead winner, and then just a minute later, No. 2 seed Wael Kilani sealed the championship for USF, winning his match 6-2, 6-3. The Bulls were leading in the second set of two other matches, with the No. 3 singles match tied entering a third set.
It's just the third postseason crown since the Bulls joined the Big East in 2005 -- women's tennis won on the same courts in 2007, and men's soccer won on its home field last fall. USF's softball team won a regular-season Big East title last spring, but lost in the league tournament.
"It's very special," said Barr, who in 17 seasons has also led USF to five Conference USA titles and one in the Metro.
USF made last year's championship match but lost 4-3, and four returning members in the starting six used that as motivation to finish this tournament strong.
"I told them at the beginning of the match to remember last year, when we had to stand there and watch all the presentation go to the winner," Barr said. "It's not a fun position to be in,even though you had a decent tournament. Let's go out and see if we can get it today."