‘Canes secure back-to-back wins against UCF and FSU

Fourth-year junior Maya Tahan celebrates a point during Miami's match against Iowa State University on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

Miami men’s tennis was pitted against two of the top teams in Florida in back-to-back days. This proved to be no issue as the ‘Canes dispatched No. 23 Central Florida (UCF), 4-0, and No. 40 Florida State (FSU), 5-2, on the road.

On Saturday, UM was not to be denied against the Knights (5-5). UCF has become a women’s tennis powerhouse, but the Hurricanes have now won three straight.

Starting with doubles, junior Isabella Pfennig and redshirt sophomore Alexa Noel drew first blood as they coasted to a 6-2 victory on Court 2. UCF bounced back as fifth-year senior Daevenia Achong and fourth-year junior Maya Tahan fell, 3-6. With Court 3 acting as the decider, junior Audrey Boch-Collins and freshman Mia Mack delivered a clutch performance for the ‘Canes to give Miami a 1-0 lead.

In singles, Miami got off to a blistering start. No. 8 Noel steamrolled No. 31 Marie Mattel, 6-2, 6-1, on Court 1 to double UM’s advantage. Pfennig struck next on Court 3, as she also won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, to put the ‘Canes a win away from victory.

On all four of the remaining courts, the matches went to decisive third sets, highlighting the razor-thin margin between the players. On Court 6, Tahan ended the intrigue as she battled from behind, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, to clinch the match for the ‘Canes.

The rest of the matches were abandoned. On Court 2, Achong was tied at 5-5 in the final set. Boch-Collins lost the first set, 5-7, but won the second, 4-6. On Court 5, Mack was battling in the third set but was losing, 1-4.

The ‘Canes didn’t have much time to rest as they traveled further north into Seminole territory. Any game against FSU, regardless of record, is a must-win, and this was enemy territory for Miami.With boisterous FSU fans whistling and cheering, the Hurricanes appeared unphased as they took care of business.

It was all Miami in doubles, as they swept all three matches. Noel and Pfennig finished first on Court 2, 6-2, followed by Boch-Collins and Mack on Court 3, 6-4. Court 1 was the cherry on top, as Achong and Tahan won, 6-4.

FSU struck back early in singles, as Achong fell on Court 2, 6-7 (3-7), 2-6, to notch the score at 1-1. The ‘Canes punched back as Tahan won her second match of the weekend, 6-3, 6-4, on Court 6.

Mack brought the lead to 3-1 with a 7-5, 6-4 victory on Court 5 to put the ‘Canes up 3-1. However, just as with UCF, the Seminoles (6-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)) fought back.

On Court 1, Noel, who won the first set, entered a tiebreaker for the second set. She showed poise once again as she won 7-3 in the tiebreak to give the ‘Canes a 4-1 victory.

Because of the nature of the rivalry, the two teams decided to forge on with the remaining matches, which turned out to be a treat for the fans attending. On Court 3, Pfennig won in three sets, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, to push Miami to a 5-1 advantage.

All eyes turned to Court 4, where an exciting battle was taking place. After losing the first set 4-6, Boch-Collins fought her way back and won a second-set tiebreak (7-1). A 10-point tiebreak for the match played out in dramatic fashion. The players remained deadlocked at 10-10, with both refusing to lose. Eventually, FSU’s Ellie Schoppe eked out the win, 16-14, to put the final match score at 5-2.

Head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews moved to fourth all-time in ACC wins with 352. The ‘Canes (7-2, 2-1 ACC) also improved to 20-7 against FSU during Yaroshuk-Tews’ tenure.

These wins are just what the ‘Canes needed as they head into a huge match against No. 4 North Carolina State. The match is set to start at noon on Friday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.