Canes knock off rival Florida State but fall in ACC tournament semifinals

Freshman Isabella Pfennig yells in frustration after a point during Miami's match against Virginia on April 4 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Freshman Isabella Pfennig yells in frustration after a point during Miami's match against Virginia on April 4 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

The Hurricanes’ hopes of an Atlantic Coast Conference women’s tennis championship ended with a 4-3 team loss to Georgia Tech Saturday. But before its tournament ended in Rome, Ga., Miami earned a couple of victories, including one over rival Florida State just two weeks after falling to the Seminoles in the regular season.

No. 24 UM (14-8, 8-5 ACC) now awaits its NCAA Tournament fate, with selections announced May 3.

Miami’s 4-1 win over FSU will certainly help its case in the committee’s eyes. After dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker at the ‘Noles on April 9 that was decided by a single match’s tiebreaker, the Hurricanes wasted little time securing the doubles point. The match, held at Georgia Tech, then proceeded into singles, where UM picked up right where they left off in doubles. FSU’s sole highlight was a 6-2, 6-2 win on the No. 5 court over Miami’s Diana Khodan.

Daevenia Achong beat the Seminoes’ Nandini Das 6-1, 6-4 and Isabella Pfennig dispatched Emmanuelle Salas on the second court, 6-4, 6-2. This left Miami’s ace Estela Perez-Somarriba in position to once again be a hero, a call she answered with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over Giulia Pairone to clinch the decision for UM.

“It’s a great day to be a Miami Hurricane,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said after the match through a release by Miami Athletics. “To take down FSU at the ACC tournament coming off the loss that we had to them a couple weeks ago, I think that just says it all. So happy to be the coach of this program today.”

The Canes got the chance to face No. 6 FSU by beating Notre Dame in its opening tournament match Thursday at Berry College in Rome. The Hurricanes faced some early adversity when top doubles seed Perez-Somarriba and Pfennig lost their set 6-1, but the Canes took the doubles point regardless thanks to 6-2 wins from Khodan/Maya Tahan and Achong/Florencia Urrutia.

Perez-Somarriba, ranked No. 4 nationally in singles and the reining NCAA singles national champion, earned a 6-4, 6-2 singles win over Notre Dame’s Cameron Corse. Urrutia and Khodan also won in straight sets to advance Miami to the quarterfinals.

The Hurricanes’ magic ran out in Rome Saturday when facing No. 16 Georgia Tech in the ACC semifinals. Miami lost the doubles point and although Perez-Somarriba, Urrutia and Tahan won their singles matches to tie the team score at three points each, Khodan fell in the decisive match 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to the Yellow Jackets’ Mahak Jain.

UM fought a lot of adversity before its deep conference tournament run. A 3-5 start to the season followed by a nearly two-week pause due to COVID protocols threatened to turn the season upside down. Instead, Miami won nine out of its final 11 regular season matches and went deep in conference tournament action.

I’m proud of this team,” Yaroshuk-Tews said in a Miami Athletics release. “We’ve come a long way; we’re playing great tennis. We’ve got an NCAA tournament ahead of us. I tell these kids all the time, the conference [tournament] is bigger than the regular season and NCAA’s is bigger than conference. So, we’ve just got to keep our foot on the gas and we’ve got to make a few minor adjustments, keep our heads up, get back to Miami and practice.”

Men drop opening tournament match

In the classic pesky 8-seed vs. 9-seed tournament match, Miami’s men’s tennis program fell 4-3 to No. 31 Georgia Tech Thursday in Rome. The loss came more than two months after the Canes beat the Jackets 6-1 in Coral Gables.

UM lost two doubles points to Georgia Tech but fought back in singles, with all but two singles matches going three sets. Adria Soriano Barrera beat GT’s Marcus McDaniel 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) on the No. 1 court. Benjamin Hannestad defeated the Jackets’ Pablo Schelcher 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-1 and Oren Vasser won over Brandon McKinny 6-2, 7-5. Miami’s Stefan Milicevic then dropped the decisive match 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-4 to Keshav Chopra.

The Hurricanes finish with an 8-10 record and a 4-6 mark in ACC competition. After a five-match slide in late February and March, they rebounded to win four straight including a 4-2 triumph at Florida State.