In just her second season with the program, USF women’s tennis head coach Cristina Moros has done a remarkable job with her Bulls squad. Last year they went 17-7, reached the conference tournament final, and had an 11-match winning streak. It was a little tougher this season. USF entered this weekend’s American Athletic Conference Championships as the #7 seed. They had to win four times in four days to take home the trophy. And wouldn't you know it, they did just that.
Here’s what the championship moment looked like:
WE ARE YOUR NEW AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS pic.twitter.com/Styln3QESz— USF Women's Tennis (@USFWTEN) April 22, 2017
It all started for the Bulls on Thursday afternoon, where USF upset the No. 2 seed Tulane Green Wave in the quarterfinal round. With the 1-0 advantage after doubles, USF sophomore Ana Roman Dominguez and senior Vera Bessonova won in straight sets to extend the Bulls lead to 3-0. Tulane would fight back, though, with a 6-1 doubles doubles win on Court #1 over Bessonova and Martinez. However, the Bulls would answer with a pair of 6-4 wins on Courts #2 and #3 to clinch the match.
On Friday, USF junior Juliana Cardoso powered the Bulls to a 4-2 victory over third-seeded SMU. It all came down to Cardoso and her fellow junior teammate Jessica Cortes Chaves. Both matches went into the third set, and Cardoso eventually defeated SMU’s Sharapova 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-4. The victory sent the Bulls to their third straight conference title game. (We should also mention that both Tulane and SMU defeated USF in the regular season, with ease.)
Saturday, USF topped it all off by defeating top-seeded Tulsa 4-2 to win the American Championship. Tulsa tied it up when Juliana Cardoso struggled and fell 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-1. USF would respond quickly, though, as senior Vera Bessonova took Court #2 with a three-set win,1-6, 7-5, 6-4. Another singles win by Nicole Dzenga on Court 5 (7-5, 4-6, 6-4) sealed the championship for the Bulls. A perfect ending to an improbable run for these USF ladies, who beat the top three seeds in consecutive days to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
(Ed. note: In the past we would have hit the Lady Gaga here, but let’s update our references for the kids.)
A quick side note on the USF men’s tennis team: They face C. Florida on Sunday afternoon at noon in the American Conference title game. The Bulls cruised to a 4-0 victory over Memphis in the semifinal on Saturday, and can win their FOURTH straight American championship with a win over C.
Get used to it folks, we’re a tennis school now. And it’s pretty fun.