Tennis blanks in-state rival South Florida

The University of South Florida proved to be no match for the Hurricanes.
Miami shut out the Bulls 7-0 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center Saturday. The win boosted No. 13 Miami’s record to 5-2 while USF fell to 2-5.
The ‘Canes breezed through all three doubles matches. Senior Igna deVilliers and junior Abby Smith defeated Fabiana Taverna and Luisa Obando 8-4, while sophomore Megan Bradley and junior Mari Toro beat Gina Craig and Talia Romero 8-2. Freshman Melissa Applebaum and junior Sara Robbins took care of Patricia Kolendo and Jamie Larson 8-2 to round out doubles play. In singles, UM faced very little competition from its opponents, as not one match required a third set of play. Toro defeated Taverna 6-0, 6-0, Bradley won over Obando 6-1, 6-0, and Applebaum beat Kolendo 6-4, 3-0 (ret.). In No. 4 singles junior Sihem Bennacer defeated Romero 6-0, 6-4. Robbins defeated Craig 6-1, 6-3, and sophomore Ewelina Skaza closed out singles play, finishing off Belen Pandre 6-0, 6-0.
The biggest problem for the ‘Canes on the day came when DeVilliers and Smith experienced some serving trouble and minor miscommunications. Those problems were resolved, however, as deVilliers delivered an ace to top off the set.
Toro, ranked No. 57 in the nation, continuously placed her shots on opposite ends of the court, leaving Taverna unable to return them. Toro says she was able to handle the steady wind the players faced.
“The conditions were hard because of the wind,” Toro said. “You set up for the ball here and the balls over there.”
Head coach Page Yaroshuk didn’t feel the weather had much of an effect on her team.
“I was happy that [we] beat them, and beat them pretty badly,” Yaroshuk said. “I thought the girls played well. They just took care of business; they didn’t have any close matches.”
The win came after two matches which resulted in less favorable results for Miami. The ‘Canes fell to No. 2 Florida in Gainesville Feb. 15 and then to No. 35 Harvard two days later.
“Coming off of two losses in a row, we needed this win,” Toro said. “It was a pretty easy match, which we needed just to get some confidence back.”
Yaroshuk was unfazed by the losses and is determined to get back on track.
“I think everyone’s overreacting to the two losses,” Yaroshuk said. “[They] were disappointing, but Florida’s a solid team, Harvard’s a solid team, and we’re a solid team, and it was just unfortunate that we played those schools back to back.”
“I think in our next four or five matches we just need to focus on improving. I think we’re clearly more talented than the teams we’re going to be playing these next five matches.”
Toro believes that being mentally prepared and playing carefully will result in victories for Miami.
“We’ve just got to keep on working hard and staying focused, take it one match at a time,” Yaroshuk said. “If we do everything right and keep on believing we can win, we’ll do fine.”
Miami faces FIU next at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center Saturday at 1pm. Big East play begins Wednesday, March 5 against Boston College.
“Winning is expected, but I want to see these girls improving,” Yaroshuk said. “I want them working on their games, not just focusing on winning.”

Melissa Teich can be reached at