The Miami men’s tennis team may not have advanced to another NCAA Championships, but the Hurricanes were represented there.
Freshman phenom Todd Widom, who compiled an overall record of 28-7, made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAAs in College Station, Texas.
Widom recorded the only point for the Hurricanes (12-10) in each of their final two losses. Miami ended their season with a 4-1 loss to No. 25 South Florida at the NCAA Regionals in Gainesville. The other loss came against Notre Dame, the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament.
The men started off the tourney the right way by dominating West Virginia in a 4-0 decision in the first round. Then, they advanced to the championship game after upsetting No. 2 Virginia Tech, 4-3. On that day, the men were down 3-2 before Thomas Smid and Jose Lieberman both rallied to win their singles matches in three sets.
“It was a great college tennis match against Virginia Tech, but the downside is that we really did have some tough matches and it is really hot out here,” head coach Jay Berger said. “When you win 7-6 in the third in two matches, the guys are going to be a little tired.”
That proved to be true the following day as the ‘Canes were outmatched by the Fighting Irish men, who took the match, 4-1.
“They are probably just a little bit better than us and we needed a lot of good things to happen for us to win,” Berger said. “None of their guys didn’t play well today.”
The team’s lone victory came when Widom defeated Notre Dame ace Javier Taborga. Widom, who had lost in the Virginia Tech match, came out with something to prove.
“I played my worst match of the year the day before and I wanted to come out here and prove I was still playing good,” Widom said.
The victory over Taborga did give Widom the MVP award for the tournament. His coach said the award was well deserved.
“It was a great win that he beat Taborga today,” Berger said. “Todd is a very important part of our team, he plays the top competition and in most cases, takes out the top player.”
The bright point was that this team gained plenty of confidence with the victory. Miami was at a mediocre 8-8 before pulling off four straight wins.
“We gained a lot of confidence from winning the Virginia Tech match” Widom said. “We believe more and more in each other and we think we can come out and beat good teams now.”
The ‘Canes’ loss was not due to a lack of effort. Miami played hard throughout the tournament and never gave up, even when they were down against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.
“We fought extremely hard in all the matches, especially today and yesterday and our players definitely showed some heart out there,” Berger said.
The Hurricanes will need more of the same next season, as half of the 2001-2002 squad were seniors.