The FIU Golden Panthers turned out to be more of a test than the Hurricanes thought it should have been.
Nevertheless, Miami took care of business Saturday, winning 6-1 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. No. 21 Miami is now 6-2 while the Golden Panthers drop to 3-7 on the year. Still, head coach Page Yaroshuk wasn’t completely satisfied with the result.
“We have to play better than we did today,” Yaroshuk said. “We can’t have close matches with FIU and expect to beat great teams down the road.”
The Hurricanes started off on the right foot, winning each of the three doubles matches on the day. Junior Abby Smith and senior Igna deVilliers defeated Mei Ly and Bruna Discordia 8-2, while sophomore Megan Bradley and junior Mari Toro defeated Desanka Jovanovic and Christine Suard 8-3. In the last doubles match, freshman Melissa Applebaum and junior Sara Robbins made easy work of Courtney Jonson and Davina Duronio 8-0.
“We worked hard out there and we had good energy in each the one, two, and three doubles matches,” Smith said. “Our winning streak is now at two, but even though we played well as partners it is a team effort and it matters how everyone else plays as well.”
Singles play, though, yielded much closer results than expected. Three of the six matches went to a third set of play. Bradley defeated Jovanovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, Applebaum beat Discordia 6-2, 6-0, and sophomore Sihem Bennacer won against Surd 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Yaroshuk was especially pleased with Bennacer’s play.
“I was happy to see Bennacer in her No. 4 match win after coming off of mono,” Yaroshuk said.
The biggest surprise of the day was when Mei Ly defeated Mari Toro 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the No. 2 singles match. In No. 5 singles, sophomore Staci Stevens beat Jonson 6-2, 6-2, while Robbins rounded out singles play with a 6-2, 6-1, victory over Duronio.
Toro, ranked No. 94 in the country, had the most exciting match of the day, as the singles match went to a tiebreaker in the third and final set. Down 5-4, Toro broke Mei Ly’s serve to get even the score at 5-5 and proceeded to win the next game to take the lead 6-5. Mei Ly proved to be too much for the Miami junior as she took the next game and won the tiebreaker
Miami’s No. 1 singles player, Megan Bradley, fought back after losing her first singles set, eventually overpowering her opponent in three sets.
The victory was Miami’s second in a row, following Saturday’s 7-0 victory over South Florida. Next up for the ‘Canes is a home match against Boston College at 6 PM Wednesday.
“Our goal is better tennis and not only to win but to get the girls playing better than they have been,” Yaroshuk said. “I thought the girls played well, but they are going to have to step up their games as we have a big match coming up against University of Virginia at the end of the week.”
Doug Kroll can be reached at Dstorm13@aol.com