Miami men’s tennis falls short twice on Virginia road trip

Sophomore Martin Katz prepares to hit the ball back to his Florida Atlantic Univerisity opponents during the match point of the doubles matches on February 12 at Neil Schiff Tennis Center. Photo credit: Reese Putnam

With matches against reigning national champion Virginia and fellow ACC foe Virginia Tech, the ‘Canes knew they were not going to have an easy time on their road trip. Miami lost 4-0 to No. 21 Virginia on Friday before suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Virginia Tech two days later.

Against the Cavaliers (9-4, 1-0 ACC), there were not many bright spots for the ‘Canes (6-4, 0-2 ACC). Across the board, Virginia proved to be a formidable team, winning the first set of every single match and looking dominant on most courts.

In doubles, the Cavaliers (9-4, 1-0 ACC) grabbed wins on Courts 2 and 3, winning 6-4 and 6-3, respectively. On Court 1, the duo of fifth-year senior Juan Martin Jalif and freshman Martin Vergara were trailing 5-4 when the match was called.

In singles, Virginia boasted a lineup that included four players with a singles ranking compared to Miami’s two.

The Cavaliers wasted no time getting down to business as they grabbed their second point of the day on Court 4. Fifth-year senior Franco Aubone fell 6-3, 6-1. Next, Virginia increased the margin to three as freshman Nacho Serra Sanchez was defeated 6-2, 6-4 on Court 6.

The final blow was delivered on Court 1 as graduate student Dan Martin fell 6-4, 6-2 to the hard-hitting No. 36 Chris Rodesch, clinching the match for Virginia. The rest of the matches were abandoned with things looking grim on the remaining courts. Court 5 was the only match where the Hurricanes had momentum as graduate student Leo Bierbaum was inches away from forcing a third set.

Two days later, the ‘Canes went back to work, this time against the Hokies (7-5, 1-0 ACC) in Blacksburg, Virginia. Miami fell in doubles once again as sophomore Martin Katz and freshman Antonio Prat lost 6-2 on Court 3, and Jalif and Vergara lost 6-3 on Court 1. Martin and Aubone were a game away from victory on Court 2, 5-2, but it was all for naught.

In singles, Miami experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions. On Court 6, Sanchez put the ‘Canes level with the Hokies as he thrashed his opponent 6-4, 6-2. However, the pendulum swung back towards Virginia Tech, as they rattled off victories on Courts 4 and 1. Aubone lost 6-0, 6-3, and Martin fell 7-5, 6-3.

On Court 5, with the ‘Canes down 3-1, Bierbaum had a come-from-behind threeset victory, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, to keep the ‘Canes in the match. Next, Prat claimed a three-set victory of his own, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, to bring the ‘Canes on level terms once again.

This left the match riding on Court 2, where Katz was locked in a battle of attrition. After falling in the first set narrowly, 7-5, Katz responded with a heroic 6-4 victory in the second set to force a decisive third.

The third set got off to a rocky start, as Katz would quickly go down a break, but the sophomore surged back to tie the match, 4-4, with the entire stadium watching. Virginia Tech had the last laugh, though, as they won the final two games and the match, 6-4, to give the Hokies a 4-3 victory.

It was a heartbreaking end to a valiant effort, but the ‘Canes will have a chance to regroup next Wednesday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. They are slotted for a double header against South Alabama and the College of Charleston on Wednesday March 8 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.