PROVIDENCE, R.I. – USF swept the BIG EAST weekly tennis awards after both the men’s and women’s teams knocked off two ranked opponents last week. Junior Wael Kilani and senior Irene Rehberger were named BIG EAST Male Tennis Player of the Week and BIG EAST Female Tennis Player of the Week, respectively. These are the first weekly honors for the Bulls this season.
Kilani led the No. 50 USF men to a 3-2 record last week, going 4-1 at No. 2 singles and 4-1 in doubles action to win eight of 10 combined matches. The junior blanked Nikita Zotov in a pair of 6-0 sets as the Bulls shutout No. 71 Iowa 7-0 March 14. He teamed with Federico Sabogal to down Austen Kauss and Jonas Dierckx 9-7 in No. 2 doubles. In an 8-5 loss to No. 26 Auburn March 16, Kilani defeated Tim Hewitt 6-4, 6-3, but fell 8-5 to Lucas Lopasso and Rafael Rondino at No. 3 doubles. Kilani’s lone singles loss of the week came in a three set contest (4-6, 6-4, 7-5) to No. 27 Tulsa’s Japie De Klerk. In No. 3 doubles, he paired with new partner Sebastian Hagn to beat the Tulsa duo of Rusty Turpin and Alastair Barnes 8-6.
The USF men rebounded from the two losses with a 4-1 win over No. 60 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi March 19. Kilani swept James Langford 6-4, 6-1 in singles action. Kilani and Hagn clinched the doubles point for the Bulls, edging Matt Westmoreland and Robert Raguz 9-7 at the No. 3 spot. In a 4-3 win over UCF march 20, the junior improved to 12-2 in singles play with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory against Claudio Romano. The new USF No. 3 doubles duo improved to 3-0 as a pair, downing Romano and Mitch Thams 8-6. Kilani is 12-2 in doubles this season.
Rehberger led the No. 38 USF women to a 3-2 mark last week, going 4-1 at No. 1 singles and 3-2 at No. 2 doubles. In the 7-0 blanking of Marquette March 14, the senior beat Kelly Barry 6-3, 6-1 and teamed with Ecaterina Vasenina to defeat Olga Fischer and Rocio Diaz 8-5. Rehberger helped the Bulls upset No. 15 Notre Dame 5-2 March 15 as she swept the Irish’s 32nd-ranked Shannon Matthews 6-2, 6-0. The No. 2 USF doubles pair batted to an 8-7 (7-2) victory over ND’s Chrissie McGaffigan and Kristen Rafael. The Bulls dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 18 Tennessee March 16 and a 7-0 decision to No. 6 Michigan March 18. Rehberger picked up one of USF’s two points against Tennessee with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) win over Natalie Pluskota at No. 1 singles. In doubles action, the Volunteer pair of Rosalia Alda and Maria Sorbello claimed an 8-5 victory over Rehberger and Vasenina.
After the two losses, the Bulls answered back with a 6-1 win against No. 75 Ohio State March 20. In singles action, Rehberger edged Kelsey Haviland 6-2, 5-7, 10-8. At the No. 2 doubles position, the USF team topped the Buckeyes’ paring of Fidan Manashirova and Gabby Steele 8-5. The Bulls climbed in the ITA rankings from No. 42 to No. 38 after the wins over the two ranked opponents last week.