Tennis fans treated to pleasant Sunday surprise
Sunday turned out to be a historic day for the UM tennis team as the Hurricanes beat national powerhouse Texas A&M for the first time ever, 4-3 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Sophomore Todd Widom, ranked ninth in the country, led the way for the ‘Canes, as he beat Ante Matijevic 6-3, 7-6 (5) in No. 1 singles. Widom moved Matijevic all over the court using a serve that Matijevic had lots of trouble handling. Matijevic shifted the momentum in the second set with a few big rallies that forced the match into a tiebreaker that Widom would eventually pull out.
“I served really well in this match,” Widom said. “I went down 4-1 with two breaks, but tennis is tennis and you just have to keep fighting.”
Earlier in the day, Miami’s Andrew Golub and Colin Purcell defeated Cameron Fenner and John Nallon 8-4 in doubles play. The win, complemented by an Aggie, forfeit sealed the doubles point for the Hurricanes. Texas A&M also forfeited the sixth singles match, something Aggies’ head coach Tim Cass said came as a result of players “breaking team rules.”
With Widom’s victory and the two forfeits, Miami only needed one more point for the win. The Hurricanes received that point when freshman Eric Hechtman defeated Fenner 7-6 (7), 6-3 in No. 5 singles.
“This feels great because I heard last year there was a lot of rivalry between our team and their team,” Hechtman said. “I just wanted to take it to them.”
Texas A&M’s Khaled El Dorry topped Golub 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in an intense second singles match. The visiting Aggies also tallied wins when Luis Manrique defeated freshman Matt Loucks 6-3, 6-1, and John Nallon beat Purcell 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3).
Despite these losses for the ‘Canes, head coach Bryan Getz was pleased with the final result.
“This was big, especially with all of our young kids able to get an experience like this in the third match of their college careers,” Getz said. “It’s just huge.”
The team chemistry among the Hurricane squad also fueled some positive energy through the Neil Schiff Tennis Complex.
“I saw Todd winning and it just fired me up and at the end I was just real aggressive,” Hechtman said.
Miami remains perfect on the season at 3-0 and will likely move up in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings. The undefeated record will be tested Friday, as the ‘Canes head to Gainesville to face No. 5 Florida.
“Florida is actually on another level than [Texas A&M] so we are going to have to fight even harder,” Getz said.
Miami’s players, like Widom, realize the talent that UF’s players offer, but thinks that the ‘Canes can match up just as well.
“I know what they are going to bring to the table and I know what we are going to bring to the table,” Widom said. “It’s going to be a great battle.”
-Ben Wolf can be reached at DerBepo2@aol.com.