Women’s Tennis: ‘Canes upgraded heading into March

February was a rough month for the Miami Hurricanes women’s tennis team, who lost top-ten ranked Laura Vallverdu to an ankle injury, dropped two of five matches and struggled in the ITA Indoor Nationals. The bad luck seems to have departed, as they have roared into March like lions, winning seven straight.

After a marathon weekend to begin the month, in which the ‘Canes faced three opponents in four days, they opened Atlantic Coast Conference play against fierce in-state rival Florida State University on Mar. 6.

Last year’s ACC opener was also against the Seminoles, with Miami sweeping the match 7-0. This year was much tighter, but positive for the ‘Canes as they won 4-3.

The day started off big for the ‘Noles, as they took two of three doubles matches and the doubles point. The victory was marked by the upset of the No. 8 doubles team ofAudrey Banada and Romy Farah by the No. 23 doubles team of Nicola Slater and Carolin Walter, 8-5.

Audra Cohen continued her dominance, defeating No. 98 Nicola Slater in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.

With the match tied 3-3, the deciding flight was on court three, between Romy Farah and Florida State’s No. 64 Lauren Macfarlane. Farah took the early lead, allowing only one game in the first set. Macfarlane rallied to force a third set, dominated by Farah. After Macfarlane double faulted, the match went to the ‘Canes (6-1, 4-6, 6-2).

It was thought the road would get tougher, as the ‘Canes welcomed the No. 14 Demon Deacons of Wake Forest on Mar. 9. It was all too easy for Miami, as they swept the doubles flights and only counted one loss among singles in Caren Seenauth, who fell to Ana Jerman, 6-0, 6-2.

The only real drama seemed to come from court five, as Gina Sabatino and Wake Forest’s Sasha Kulikova forced each other into a tiebreak. Ultimately, after falling behind in the first set, Sabatino came all the way back, 3-6, 7-6, 1-0 (10-8). Sabatino, a junior transfer from Boston University, is now 12-1 overall since the start of 2007.

The ACC challenges continued as the ‘Canes welcomed the Wolfpack of N.C. State to the Neil Schiff Tennis Center Mar. 11. The Wolfpack came into the match ranked 38th, but posed little challenge to Miami, falling 6-1.

Again for the ‘Canes, the only blemish came in singles, as freshman Claudia Wasilewski fell to Neils Barringer, 6-4, 6-4.

The ‘Canes finally got to host a non-conference opponent Friday, as the Crimson of Harvard traveled south. It was good that the rain, which held up the start of the match, didn’t hold as the victory proved to be the easiest win in this most recent streak, with Miami shutting out Harvard 7-0.

Harvard forfeited one doubles and singles match, and it didn’t improve much for them from there. Each singles victory was in straight sets, with the closest doubles score coming in Audrey Banada and Romy Farah’s victory over Preethi Mukundan and Lena Litvak, 8-5.

Cohen received a little break, playing in doubles with Caren Seenauth, but sitting out singles. Cohen and Seenauth shut out Elizabeth Brook and Vilsa Curto, 8-0.

With the home stand over, the ‘Canes will travel outside the state of Florida to an outdoor venue for the first time this year, to the No. 6 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Matthew Bunch may be contacted at m.bunch@umiami.edu.