Third-ranked senior Daniel Vallverdu cruised into Saturday’s semifinal at the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor National Championships in Charlottesville, Va., with a six-match win streak.
Due to a pectoral injury he suffered during the second round, however, Vallverdu had to withdraw from competition.
“It’s a shame that Daniel couldn’t play his semifinal match,” head coach Mario Rincon said. “The pain was unbearable this morning when hitting forehands. He still had a good tournament and I expect him to have an outstanding spring season.”
Prior to the injury, Vallverdu knocked off two top-25 opponents on Friday – 22nd-ranked Oklahoma junior Andrei Daescu, 6-4, 6-2, in the round of 16; and fifth-ranked Southern California junior Robert Farah, 7-6, 2-6, 6-1.
“I’m proud of Danny’s mental toughness,” Rincon said. “He was able to mix his shots and throw his opponent off his rhythm.”
In the opening round, Vallverdu earned a 6-1, 6-4 straight sets win against Denver sophomore Martin Zimmerman.
“Danny got off to an early start and was able to establish his game,” Rincon said. “His second serve was better today and he used his backhand slice more often.”
With the fall season over for the men’s team, the Hurricanes will open the spring season in January.
On the women’s side of the court at the ITA Championships, things didn’t go as well for Vallverdu’s younger sister, Laura, who was upset in the opening round and later lost her third-straight singles match for the first time in her career.
She and sophomore Michaela Kissell fell to Texas’ No. 12 pair of junior Vanja Corovic and senior Marija Milic, 8-1.
The 15th-ranked Hurricane duo (3-3) bounced back on Friday in the consolation draw with an 8-1 win against Duke’s third-ranked pair of junior Amanda Granson and senior Melissa Mang, but dropped a match on Saturday in three sets to USC junior Gabriela Niculescu and sophomore Maria Sanchez, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“Overall, it didn’t go that well,” Vallverdu said. “We were expecting better results from my part and doubles. In the consolation round, we did okay and we had good wins. We were working on certain things towards the spring because it’s later in the season.”
At the inaugural UM Women’s Tennis Fall Invitational, sophomore Bianca Eichkorn, ranked 109th, claimed the singles title by winning all three of her singles matches.
“Bianca played great tennis,” head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She’s had an exceptional fall and to go out this way was just a perfect way for her to end it because she’s been putting in a lot of hard work and it’s really paying off.”
On both Saturday and Sunday, Eichkorn dropped the first set before battling to three-set victories against ranked opponents.
She upset 79th-ranked sophomore Liset Brito of Florida International, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, for the title, and 53rd-ranked junior Lauren Macfarlane of Florida State in a three-set marathon, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, in Saturday’s second round.
“I just started too defensive and waited for what the girl was doing instead of just playing my game,” Eichkorn said. “I just turned it around after the first set.”
Junior Claudia Wasilewski, sophomore Jenna Osborne and freshman Alessa Waibel finished the weekend with 2-1 singles records.
Brito and junior Priscilla Castillo took home the doubles championship for FIU. Florida State and Central Florida also competed in the tournament.
“I think it was nice to host some solid Florida teams to close out the fall season,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “The girls got a lot of matches, which is what they needed.”
The fall season is also finished for the women’s team as it prepares for the start of the spring season in 2009.
“I’m really excited for the spring because we have a pretty new team and it’s going to be a lot different, but I have a lot of belief in our team,” Eichkorn said. “We are young girls with a lot of talent so it’s going to be exciting. If we fight from the very first point we can be very successful.”