Miami men’s tennis falls to Duke, North Carolina

Graduate student Dan Martin returns a ball against North Carolina at the Chewning Tennis Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sunday, April 16, 2023. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

The No. 13 Duke Blue Devils (17-5) coasted past the ‘Canes, 6-1, on Friday, and UNC (17-7) won a close but decisive victory, 4-2, to give the state of North Carolina a sweep over the Hurricanes, who played their last two matches of the season.

There was, however, a bright spot for Miami (14-9), as Dan Martin won both of his matches over the weekend, including a win over the No. 14 player in the country.

Against Duke, the individual matches were closer than the final score indicated. In doubles, the Blue Devils won on Courts 1 and 3. Freshman Antonio Prat and sophomore Martin Katz lost 4-6, while fifth-year senior Juan Martin Jalif and freshman Martin Vergara fell 4-6 to give the opening point to Duke. Martin and fifth-year senior Franco Aubone were winning 5-3 when the other matches finished, leaving the ‘Canes just short of a likely victory.

In singles, Miami fought hard but lost tight sets across the board. Freshman Nacho Serra Sanchez lost on Court 6, 1-6, 2-6, while Prat lost close, 2-6, 6-7 (1-7) to give Duke two quick points. The Blue Devils clinched the match in another tiebreak on Court 4, as graduate student Leo Bierbaum came up short, 2-6, 6-7 (5-7). The teams decided to continue playing, and Duke collected a win on Court 3. Katz lost in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, to make it 5-0 on the day. Aubone fell next on Court 5, 6-7 (5-7), 3-6, to put Miami in serious danger of getting swept.

Martin, the top-ranked player on the Hurricanes, pulled off yet another ranked win. This time, No. 14 Garrett Johns was the victim as Martin skillfully moved past him, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5).

Two days later, and a short drive away, UM played against the Tar Heels. Miami put up an admirable effort but fell short once again. In doubles, all three courts were close, but North Carolina claimed the point on Courts 2 and 3. On Court 1, Jalif and Vergara were tied with the No. 17 pairing in the country, 5-5, when the point was called.

In singles, Martin won convincingly against the Tar Heels’ top player, 6-1, 6-4, to put the ‘Canes back on level terms, 1-1. Miami then grabbed the lead as Sanchez won on Court 5, 6-4, 6-2, giving the upset-minded Hurricanes the edge.

Prat won a crucial second set tiebreaker, 10-8, to force a third set in his match on Court 3. He lost the third set, 3-6, to even the score. Bierbaum fell next on Court 4 in straight sets, 4-6, 5-7, to put North Carolina a point away.

That point came in another three-set match, as Katz fell short on Court 2, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, after winning the opening set. Aubone was also in a third set on Court 6, where he was also up a break, but the Tar Heels called the match.

The ‘Canes were only a couple of points away from leaving Chapel Hill with a win, but even then, they still went toe-to-toe with a top-20 team. Next up is the ACC Championships in Cary, N.C. The schedule has not been finalized yet for Miami, but it will start on April 19 and last through April 23.