Hurricanes defeat FIU and Florida in first weekend of NCAA Tournament run

Sophomore Xinyi Nong celebrates after scoring in a singles match against Texas Christian University on Friday, Jan. 12 at the Neil Schift Tennis Center. Photo credit: Raul Maristany (Miami Athletics)

Miami kicked off its playoff berth with an opening-match win against Florida International in Gainesville. In a dominant 4-1 victory, the Canes advanced to the Round of 32 to face the Florida Gators on UF’s home court.

The Gators pounced quickly, sealing the opening point as UF’s Qavia Lopez and Carly Briggs defeated UM’s Antonia Balzert and Leonie Schuknecht with ease (6-2). UF’s Rachel Gailis and Bente Spee followed with a 6-4 victory over Audrey Boch-Collins and Alexa Noel. The clinched doubles point resulted in an unfinished match between Florida’s Malwina Rowinska and Alicia Dudeney and Miami’s No. 27ranked pair of Isabella Pfennig and Xinyi Nong.

The Gators extended their lead in singles play as No. 56 Briggs set the tone with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Schuknecht. The Canes were able to notch the next two matches, as Nong was able to put the first point on the board for Miami with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 109 Lopez and No. 10 Noel won big over No. 8 Gailis at the top court, 6-2, 6-3.

No. 75 Sara Dahlstrom of UF responded with a 6-4, 6-2 victory of her own over No. 47 Pfennig to put the Gators up 3-2.

UM’s freshman, Maria Paula Vargas, was able to keep the Hurricanes alive in a lengthy three-set match against UF’s Spee(7-5, 2-6, 6-1).

With the Canes and the Gators notched up at three, the match came down to No. 115 Boch-Collins and Dudeney. It was Miami’s senior leader who once again kept her composure and succeeded over Dudeney, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, sending Miami to the Sweet 16.

The Hurricanes will meet their toughest challenge yet in a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face the No. 3ranked Wolverines on Saturday at 1 p.m.