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USF Athletics | January 31, 2019

Women's tennis: South Florida's Dominguez beats No. 1 during unbeaten run

2018 DI Tennis Championship Recap: Singles and Doubles

TAMPA, Fla. β€” Ana Roman Dominguez's senior season script has opened in perfect fashion and features an incredible comeback story that's award worthy.

South Florida's top singles player is 5-0 after making major waves in the tennis world with a straight-set victory over the nation's No. 1 player at one of the toughest college venues in the country.

NCAA tennis: Rankings | Champ history 

"I'm really happy," Roman Dominguez said after practice Wednesday morning. "I couldn't think of a better start to my senior year."

The American Athletic Conference honored Roman Dominguez as its player of the week for the second straight time following her epic upset victory at No. 5 Georgia over the weekend. Facing No. 1 Katarina Jokic indoors, Roman Dominguez roared back from a 4-1 deficit to take the first set in tie-breaking fashion, 7-6 (4).

"I lost three games on the deuce point," she said. "I was thinking, 'I'm really close and I'm just going to keep playing."

Once the score was tied at 6-6, Roman Dominguez calmed her nerves, saying to herself, "I'm here, let's do it."

After stunning Georgia's ITA All-American in the tiebreaker, the pressure was on Jokic and Roman Dominguez used the first-set momentum to roll to a 6-2 victory in the second.

NCAA championship: 2019 women's tennis tickets

"She kind of just wore the girl down and was a bit more mentally tough than she was," head coach Cristina Moros said. "To do that indoors at Georgia, in a place where her opponent was really comfortable, was a special thing to watch."

Following the monumental victory, Roman Dominguez felt a lot of love from tons of people, which made the experience extra special.

"It's really nice to hear all the support from your teammates, your friends and everybody through Instagram sending me messages," she said.

Another impressive aspect of Roman Dominguez's memorable ITA Kickoff Weekend performance was her ability to avoid a letdown just one day later in Athens, Ga. Against William & Mary, Roman Dominguez cruised past Rosie Cheng, 6-1, 6-2, to keep her season singles record unblemished. Roman Dominguez is 3-0 in singles against ranked opponents this season, including a victory over No. 13 Eden Richardson of LSU less than a week before the Georgia match.

Moros credits all the tireless work Roman Dominguez has put in the past three and a half years, and her mental toughness that has helped establish the senior as "one of the best players in the country."

"She always makes it known to her opponent that she's always there. She's not going away," Moros said. "In our sport, when it's a one-on-one situation, that says a lot."

Tennis Takes Roman Dominguez From Spain to USF

Roman Dominguez's tennis desire burns as brightly today as it did when she first picked up the racket at age 6 in her home country of Spain.

"People in my family have always played a lot of sports," said the Burgos native. "My brother was doing tennis lessons and I was like, 'Oh, that looks like a fun sport.'"

By 8, Roman was playing the sport year-round and set aside her other early loves – gymnastics and piano – just a few years later to devote her time to tennis.

"When I was 12, I decided that I only wanted to play tennis because I really like competing," she said. "That is the part that I love the most."

When Roman Dominguez was 15, she first started hearing about opportunities to come to the United States for tennis and eventually jumped at the chance of becoming a Bull.

"At home, I was a good student, so I wanted to keep doing both things," said the business management major on track to graduate in May. "That was pretty much what made me come to the States."

Aside from 6 a.m. workouts, Roman Dominguez said the biggest adjustment to a new country was communication, which was initially tough for a person who is very outgoing and friendly.

"I'm a person that talks a lot and in the beginning I wasn't able to have a full conversation," she said. "I would understand things, but by the time I would think of how to answer to that, the conversation would be over."

It took only two months for Roman Dominguez to get up to English-speaking speed and her strong tennis game earned her 2016 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors.

Just one season later, Roman Dominguez was proud to be a part of the Bulls' conference tournament title team and her love for USF has continued to get stronger with time.

"The more I've been here, I know that what I did was the right thing. It's been an amazing time these four years," she said. "I've learned so much and pretty much this is the time I've grown the most. It's been amazing to be a part of the program."

Watch Roman Dominguez and the Bulls This Weekend 

Fans are welcome to watch Roman Dominguez and the Bulls play twice at home this weekend.

Action begins Saturday at noon with USF's test against Middle Tennessee State. The Bulls also take on North Florida on Sunday at noon and admission is free at the USF Varsity Courts.

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