Sunday, May 27, 2018
Colleges

USF tennis career started with Google

TAMPA — In her native Moldova, when Ecaterina Vasenina decided her tennis skills could land her a college scholarship in the United States, her search for that new home began with her mother's obsession with all things Florida.

"She thought it was such an amazing, pretty state," said Vasenina, whose mother had never been to Florida. "Florida just sounds like a cool place to be."

Vasenina did a Google search for "Florida universities," found USF ("Everything was green") and emailed Bulls coach Agustin Moreno. He did online research and found Vasenina had an impressive junior career. A scholarship was offered and accepted, a sight-unseen transaction on both ends.

Four years later, Vasenina — "Katie" to friends — is wrapping up her USF career as the Bulls host Notre Dame in today's Big East championship final. To her, Florida is everything she read it was, and her English has improved tremendously, as has her tennis.

In Moldova (in Eastern Europe), nearly all the courts were clay — for which she credits her drop shot — and the lack of indoor courts kept her from practicing during colder months. As a result, Vasenina, 20, trained one winter in Spain, another in Australia. Those experiences prepared her for USF's international roster, which includes players from the United States, New Zealand, Spain, France and Venezuela.

Perhaps the best transition in her game has been her taking a largely individual sport and incorporating a team aspect.

"At first, it was really unusual for me. I didn't know how to cheer," said Vasenina, in her second year as the Bulls' No. 1 singles player. "It was strange. If my match was the last one, the whole team would go and cheer for me. Before, even when you were training with your friends, they didn't want you to win because it's an individual sport. It totally changed the selfish attitude that I had."

USF and Notre Dame have quite the rivalry. Today is the sixth time in eight years they meet for the Big East title, the Bulls winning only in 2007.

"It'll be tough, and they know we'll be tough," Moreno said. "We have a great respect for each other. It's a great setup for us here in the last year of the Big East."

The schools met a week ago on the USF courts. And though Notre Dame won 5-2, four of the six singles matches went to a third set. Vasenina was up 3-1 in the third set and serving at 40-15 before Britney Sanders rallied to win 6-3.

"We were so close," said Vasenina, who is working on a master's degree in global sustainability. "We're so excited (about today's match). We can't wait."

USF moves into the new American Athletic Conference this summer, and Vasenina is likely to stay with the team as a graduate assistant. The thought of a team championship at the end of her career is a dream for this individual.

"It's huge. I have goose bumps when I say it right now," she said. "It's going to be insane."

Comments
FSU football fans: How do you remember Jimbo Fisher?

FSU football fans: How do you remember Jimbo Fisher?

Former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher should be back in the state next week for the SEC's spring meetings in Destin. It is, to my knowledge, his first big trip back to Florida since leaving for Texas A&M in December.With that in mind, my questi...
Published: 05/25/18
FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

Florida State starting offensive tackle Josh Ball faces a university suspension after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for dating violence.The suspension came to light in a Facebook post Monday afternoon by Sandra Sellers, an FSU studen...
Published: 05/22/18
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Published: 05/21/18
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Published: 05/21/18
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18