By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA, APRIL 17, 2014 – The No. 26 USF men’s tennis team has made a ton of progress on the national stage this season and the Bulls are determined to take care of business in league play as well.
Second-seeded USF begins its American Athletic Conference Championship run 10 a.m. (ET) Friday against seventh-seeded UConn in the quarterfinals at The Racquet Club of Memphis.
“Our guys are really, really hungry,” head coach Matt Hill said. “We had an incredible training session Tuesday and it’s going to be good. We’re really excited to get started on Friday morning.”
USF (15-6) won five of its last six matches to finish the regular season and the Bulls are 2-1 against conference opponents. USF defeated fourth-seeded UCF, 7-0, on March 28 and Tulsa, 6-1, on April 4 before dropping a 4-3 decision at Memphis while previewing the conference site on April 13.
“Our guys didn’t know them or know the courts, so win or lose that was a win-win for me,” Hill said.
Gaining experience heading into the league tournament has been key considering how young the Bulls are this season. The roster is made up three freshmen, four sophomores, junior Oliver Pramming and senior Federico Sabogal.
“I think the biggest factor from year one to year two is we have a completely different team,” Hill said. “We have all new players basically and some of the guys from the previous coaching staff have bought in. Federico has done an incredible job for us this year, which has been a huge, huge help.”
Hill has been impressed with the young Bulls’ discipline on and off the court and said continued consistency will be key in the first American Athletic Conference Championship that features a single-elimination format. The team that wins it all will receive an automatic bid to the 68th annual NCAA Championship.
“You have to really focus on the task at hand,” Hill said.