The Miami Hurricanes faced a familiar foe on Sunday in the ACC Championship. After all, the ‘Canes lost to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in two previous ACC finals. Unfortunately for them, the result was familiar as well. Miami fell to the No. 5-ranked Yellow Jackets 4-1.
The day started off well as Miami took the doubles point 2-1. The victories came at the number one and three spots, with Audrey Banada and Gina Sabatino defeating Tarryn Rudman and Kirsten Flower 8-2. The match could have been a shutout, if not for an upset by Audra Cohen and Laura Vallverdu. The No. 33-ranked pair defeated the No. 3-ranked team of Kristi Miller and Whitney McCray.
After the doubles point, it was all downhill for Miami, starting off by the upset of No. 50-ranked Audrey Banada. She was taken down by Amanda Craddock, ranked No. 74, 6-3, 6-2.
The biggest weapon the ‘Canes had was junior Audra Cohen, the No. 1-ranked player in the country, who was announced as the ACC player of the year for the second straight year. The upsets continued on Thursday, as Cohen was handed her first loss of the regular season, by No. 8-ranked Kristi Miller, 7-5, 6-2.
After a 6-1, 6-1 loss by Miami’s Romy Farah to Amanda McDowell, it was all up to Caren Seenauth. After taking the first set, however, Seenauth couldn’t hold back Christy Striplin, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. The flight and the match was lost, and Georgia Tech claimed their third straight ACC Championship, all of them over the ‘Canes.
“It’s difficult when you come up short three years in a row, obviously,” Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “We didn’t play to our capability at the positions where we lost, but Georgia Tech had something to do with that.”
Miami lived on the edge for three days, beginning on Friday after the ‘Canes were granted a first-round bye. Weather threatened their first match, but after surviving the elements, they barely survived the Florida State Seminoles, 4-3. The victory was assured in the final flight, when junior Gina Sabatino downed FSU’s Tapiwa Marobela 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, in the only match of the day that went into a third set.
The nail biting continued Saturday, as Miami was the beneficiary of another 4-3 decision, this time over the Clemson Tigers. After losing the doubles point, Miami took four of six singles flights, capped off by Caren Seenauth’s victory over Marie Brito in a third-set tiebreak, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
“The ACC conference is so strong that I really believe that we are a better team today then we were Thursday, going in to play our first round,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “That’s what we have to take out of the tournament. We’re a better, more prepared team.”
While it is incredibly unlikely they won’t be chosen, the ‘Canes now await the selections into the NCAA tournament. Miami will be looking to see whether or not they will host a regional match at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Team selections will be announced on Tuesday, May 1 at 2:30 on ESPNews. The team will gather and watch the selection, either at the Hecht Athletic Center, or at Yaroshuk-Tews’ house.
“We’ll get together as a team and, for about a half-hour, celebrate all of the hard work we’ve put in and pat each other on the back,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “And then get back at it.”
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.