Canes split weekend matches

After moving up to sixth in the ITA poll, the University of Miami women’s tennis team faced a daunting weekend: two in-conference road matches against top-10 opponents in back-to-back days.

The Hurricanes (12-3, 2-1) overcame a 5-2 loss to eighth-ranked Georgia Tech (7-4, 2-1) with a 5-2 victory over ninth-ranked Clemson on Sunday afternoon.

Despite losing two of three in doubles competition for an early 1-0 deficit, Miami won five of six singles matches against the Tigers (8-5, 1-1). Both teams have four nationally-ranked singles players.

“Even though we didn’t get the doubles point, I thought we played really good doubles at the first and second position,” said head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, whose No. 1 tandem fell 9-7 in the deciding point. “I think that really got the team focused, and they were just ready to play singles after that.”

No. 39 Laura Vallverdu took down fourth-ranked Josipa Bek, her highest-ranked opponent of the year, 6-2, 6-2, to tie the match at one apiece. When Clemson took a brief 2-1 lead with a win at number five, sophomore Julia Cohen, who is ranked No. 13, upset top-ranked Ani Mijacika in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.

“Julia is getting comfortable, and she’s starting to believe in herself and her game,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She understands now that she has the ability to compete with a lot of players. A lot of kids don’t see her particular style of play, and it makes her a very difficult opponent to play against.”

No. 40 Bianca Eichkorn won 7-5, 6-3 at number four, while No. 63 Michaela Kissell continued her hot streak with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. It was her fourth win in her last five outings, and her third against a ranked opponent on the season.

Junior Claudia Wasilewski took the only three-set match, 5-7, 7-3, 10-2, for her fourth win in five matches.

“Each of the girls really showed up and persevered mentally after a tough loss yesterday,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I thought yesterday was a well-fought match, and we just fell short. We had to turn it around in less than 24 hours and play another top 10 program today. We just showed a lot of mental perseverance today to get the win.”

On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets snapped the Canes’ three-game winning streak. Cohen and freshman Gabriela Mejia collected the only two Hurricane points.

All but one of the singles matches were decided in three sets. Cohen grabbed her first of two matches against top-five opponents on the weekend with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 comeback against fifth-ranked Irina Falconi. Mejia stretched her winning streak to six before Sunday’s loss with a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 comeback against Sasha Krupina.

Miami returns home to the Neil Schiff Tennis Center to host rival and No. 17 Florida State (6-3, 0-1) at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

“For all of our girls to come out and play great tennis today was phenomenal,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “It was really an incredible team effort today. To beat teams like Clemson we’re going to need the entire team to show up. That’s what they did today.”