The men’s and women’s tennis teams hope home court advantage will bring good fortune this weekend as the Big East Conference Tennis Championship comes to the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
The Hurricane men’s team has earned a No. 3 seed in the tournament, while the women will have a first round bye as a No. 2 seed.
For the Miami men’s tennis team, they are in an unfamiliar role. The Hurricanes are an underdog for the first time in four seasons. The tennis team has won three Big East championships in the last four years, all under current head coach Jay Berger.
However, that doesn’t mean that anyone should count the ‘Canes out. The Hurricanes have talent and are led by the No. 16 player in the country, Todd Widom.
“We have a tough job to do and the guys will have to pick up their games to get it done,” said Berger.
This past weekend, the No. 43 Canes defeated Clemson 5-2 and then defeated No. 46 Georgia Tech 4-3 despite Widom losing for just the third time this season at No. 1 singles.
“Todd losing does not concern me at all. He was playing a very good player. It was a good match and he just as easily could have won,” said Berger.
The pair of victories put the Hurricanes men’s tennis team at 10-8 going into the Big East tournament. As a No. 3 seed in the tournament, the Hurricanes have a first round match-up today at noon against No. 6 seed West Virginia. The winner of this match will go on to play No. 2 Virginia Tech.
In order for the Hurricanes to get far in the Big East tournament, they are going to need players to step up.
“Things are going to have to fall into place for us. . . We are going to need production in the three and four singles position,” said Berger.
On the women’s side, the Hurricanes tennis team earned a first round bye as the No. 2 seed in the Big East Championship. Their first game is scheduled for noon on Saturday as they will play the winner of No. 3 Virginia Tech and No. 6 Rutgers.
However, the Hurricanes know an important key for them will be to get off to a very fast start in the doubles match, as they are in need of some confidence after losing their last two matches.
“The key to winning the tournament is to get off to an unbelievable start, especially in doubles,” said head coach Paige Yaroshuk.
The ‘Canes come into the tournament 11-6 on the season, but they have suffered back to back losses against Michigan and Notre Dame. Still, in a 4-3 indoor loss to No. 1 seed Notre Dame, the ‘Canes proved that they can play with the Fighting Irish.
“I have a group of girls who just battle, and that’s what it is going to come down to. . . It will come down to who battles harder in these conditions,” said Yarkoshuk.
If the ‘Canes can out battle Notre Dame and the rest of the Big East foes, they will win the Big East and get an automatic bid for the field of 64 in the NCAA Regional.
“If we win the Big East, we will qualify for the NCAA Regional, and hopefully we will solidify a No. 2 seed with a win,” said Yaroshuk.
While the ‘Canes are definitely a favorite to get to Sunday, it is important that they don’t overlook their Saturday opponent with Notre Dame potentially looming.
“It is important for us not to overlook Saturday because it won’t be a walk over by any means,” said Coach Yaroshuk.
Regardless of what happens in the tournament, one thing that both the men and women’s tennis teams agree on is that they are glad to be playing at home at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. The home crowd could be a big advantage for the Hurricanes. They are hoping for a large crowd to root them on to victory.
“We have been real successful at home and it will help us out if people come out to watch us play,” said Berger.