With spectators watching from the rooftop of the Neil Schiff Tennis Center and teammates gathering around the fence Tuesday, sophomore J.C. Whitner delivered the final blow in the sixth spot as No. 36 Miami finished off its big upset against No. 14 Florida, 4-3.
Arms mimicking the infamous Gator chomp, Whitner and the rest of the Canes beat a Gator team with three players in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.
“I had confidence and momentum during the match and just embraced the moment,” Whitner said. “I was a little tired at the end of the second set, but I love my teammates and I couldn’t let them down so I pulled through for [Head Coach] Mario [Rincon] and my teammates.”
Juniors Daniel Vallverdu and David Rosenfeld, ranked seventh and 98th respectively, triumphed against tough competition by winning in straight sets: UF’s No. 8 senior Greg Ouellette and No. 57 freshman Alex Lacroix were seemingly no match for their opponents.
Meanwhile, freshmen Carl Sundberg and Keith Crowley and senior Vivek Subramanian suffered tough losses in the other singles matches. Subramanian’s three-set defeat 6-2, 4-6, 4-6 came from freshman Jeff Dadamo.
In doubles play, Miami won two of three thanks to the No. 30 team of Vallverdu and Sundberg and No. 18 Subramanian and Rosenfeld. None of the Gators’ pairs are ranked in the top 50.
For the deciding point in a 3-3 tie, Whitner continued to battle following a tough second set by finally edging out freshman Erik Corace 7-6, 1-6, 6-3.
“JC [Whitner] deciding that match for us was huge,” said Rincon. “He lost a lot of matches last year. He was very close to winning big matches, but he’s gotten better. He’s improved and he’s a bitg-time player for us. I think that kid will only continue to develop and continue to take huge steps like he did today.”
Miami’s next big test comes Friday as it takes on No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus with a 6 p.m. start.
“I think it’s definitely the biggest win since I’ve been here,” said Rincon. “Florida is awfully good. It was a really big upset and I think a lot of things went right for us today. We’ve been close to beating really big time teams in the past and finally things fell our way and I’m very happy with how the whole team competed and fought for every point out there.”
Christina De Nicola may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.