After a long fall of training and tournaments, the UM men’s and women’s tennis teams are back in full swing.
The men’s team stormed into the season with a rousing 7-0 match win over the Florida Atlantic Owls this past Sunday. Every player starred, from veterans Diego Soto and Gabriel Flores to freshman Miami native Bernard Tefel.
Tefel, the 16th-ranked Florida recruit, defeated Harrison Heysek in straight sets (6-2, 6-0.)
One aspect the Canes have improved so far is their doubles game, in which they swept all three matches.
Sophomore William Albanese said this was a major focus in their offseason training.
“One of the biggest points the coaches focused on last fall was the improvement of our doubles,” Albanese said. “Last season we failed to win doubles points and when we looked back on the season we all saw how that could’ve dramatically changed our record.”
Albanese won both his singles (6-2, 6-3) and doubles matches (with partner Henrique Tsukamoto, 6-1) against FAU.
The Miami men travel to Orlando to take on last year’s Conference USA runners-up, the UCF Knights, Sunday at noon.
Albanese added that while the dominating win over the Owls built confidence, “the seniors have really been stressing to stay focused on the next match in front of us and nothing beyond that.”
“You can’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss,” he said.
Meanwhile, the No. 9 Lady Canes are looking to build off a tremendous 2013 season, one that saw them advance through the NCAA Tournament all the way to the Elite Eight.
Miami traveled to Urbana, Ill., but was eliminated by Texas A&M. Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews returns all of her players from last season, including 52nd-ranked sophomore Stephanie Wagner.
Wagner had an impressive fall; she reached the quarterfinals of the ITA Women’s Regionals in Athens, Ga. Yaroshuk-Tews has already noticed a big difference from her freshman year.
“Stephy definitely is in a better place – more mature, more emotionally sound going into this season than she was going into last season,” she said.
This coming weekend, Miami welcomes Texas, Vanderbilt and Memphis for the annual Miami Spring Invite, held each January at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Miami narrowly won the weekend event last year with 87 points over Vanderbilt (86), Texas (85) and Texas A&M (81). Vanderbilt comes into the Invite ranked 16th and Texas is 17th.
“Texas, coming in with Breaunna Addison, they’re going to be a tough team,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for whoever plays her in the top of the lineup. [These are] all good teams, all teams that we could see deep in the Tournament.”
Yaroshuk-Tews expects a weekend of “amazing tennis.”
“I can promise whoever comes out here anywhere from 9 until 3 o’clock Friday, Saturday, Sunday that they’re going to be pretty impressed with the level of tennis, with the excitement of tennis, with the competition that’s going to be taking place on these courts,” she said.