Despite winning only two of their first eleven singles matches, the University of Miami men’s tennis team maintained their focus on victory throughout this past weekend’s Miami Spring Fling. This determination guided the Hurricanes to win nine of the last eleven singles matches, balancing this weekend’s singles record to 11-11. The preseason tournament consisted of Clemson University, 18th-ranked Miami, 13th-ranked Texas A&M, and No. 6 Illinois.
The Hurricanes’ most impressive outing was against Clemson on Monday when they won five out of their seven singles matches. The day was highlighted by freshman Andrew McDade’s remarkable three-set victory (7-6, 2-6, 6-3) over Clemson’s Damiisa Robinson.
McDade was also victorious when he teamed up with junior Andrew Golub earlier that day to defeat Clemson’s No. 2 doubles team of Robinson and Madreadi Skinner (8-2). Miami’s top two seniors, Jose Lieberman and Tomas Smid bounced back after losing all their singles matches to Texas A&M and Illinois Monday – Lieberman beating Marko Gojanovic (6-4, 6-2) and Smid defeating Matt Walton (6-0, 6-1).
Freshman Todd Widom was the most successful Hurricane at the Spring Fling, finishing 2-0 in No. 1 singles and 3-0 in doubles competition where he was teamed up with a different partner each day.
“Todd will lead us at the No. 1 spot this spring,” said UM head coach Jay Berger. “But seniors like Jose and Tomas really need to step it up.”
Widom now has six consecutive victories at the No. 1 spot, which makes him 11-2 in singles overall.
“I would love to win all my matches,” Widom said. “I’ve played with a lot of the competition, but there is still a lot I haven’t seen.”
Miami’s battle with Illinois on Sunday focused on senior Joel Berman, who made his first singles appearance in over a year after suffering an elbow injury. Berman, now fully recovered, cruised by Illinois’ Conner Murnighan (6-3, 6-2) and he and Widom beat Alex Hobson and Alex Meresan (8-5) in an exciting doubles victory.
“Right now he’s playing good tennis,” Berger said. “He’s probably playing better now than he did before his injury. We just have to make sure he stays healthy.”
Berger wasn’t as pleased with anyone’s tennis on Saturday. Miami’s lone singles victory came on Golub’s close match (4-6, 6-4, 7-5) with Texas A&M’s Keith From at No. 2 singles. The Hurricanes did have success in two doubles matches, as the freshmen team of Justin Kinney and Widom defeated Derrick Bauer and Ante Matijevic (9-7) and the senior squad of Berman and Tarik El Bassiouni won 8-2 over Hunter Emmott and Khaled El Dorry.
With Miami’s spring season underway, Berger recognized that the ‘Canes must improve if they want to live up to and improve on their preseason ranking.
“It’s a starting point and we hope to move up from there,” Berger said. “But you don’t get any points in the beginning for being 18th, you get them by winning matches.”