Men’s and women’s tennis wrap fall seasons

Fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad returns a ball during practice on Wednesday Oct. 27 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables.
Fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad returns a ball during practice on Wednesday Oct. 27 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables. Photo credit: Josh Halper

After opening fall play at the Auburn Invitational with an underwhelming 6-14 singles record and a 4-3 mark in doubles, the Hurricanes men’s tennis team bounced back to show signs of a strong season to come.

Several men’s players came into the year with lofty expectations, including the doubles partnership of junior Franco Aubone and senior Benjamin Hannestad.

The duo, ranked 11th nationally in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, advanced to the finals of the ITA Southeast Regionals doubles tournament and posted a 4-1 record on the weekend.

After defeating teams from Georgia Tech, South Florida, Georgia, and Georgia State, Aubone and Hannestad lost to Marcus McDaniel and Andres Martin of Georgia Tech in a tightly contested finals match. The No. 8 Yellow Jackets won the first set 7-6 (2) through a tiebreaker, before taking the second set 7-5.

On the singles court, graduate student Dan Martin has been the Hurricanes’ standout performer. Martin went 4-0 to take the singles crown in the Magill draw at the University of Georgia’s Bulldog Invitational earlier in the month, but lost in the round of 16 at the ITA Regionals.

Miami nearly swept singles competition at the Bulldog Invitational, with junior Juan Martin Jalif winning three matches to advance to the final of the Red Draw. Jalif fell in a tightly contested three-set final to UNC Wilmington’s Richard Trey Mallory.

The Hurricanes men’s team possesses a great deal of experience, as six of the team’s nine players are at least juniors. This will provide Miami with a nice source of depth as it moves into the more tenuous and competitive spring season.

Fall play will conclude for the men’s team at the three-day Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta on Friday.

Sophomore Isabella Pfennig hits a backhand shot during practice on Wednesday Oct. 27 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables.
Sophomore Isabella Pfennig hits a backhand shot during practice on Wednesday Oct. 27 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables.

Similar to the men’s team, the women’s tennis squad is starting to get back into the swing of things in preparation for its upcoming season.

A few members of the Hurricanes tennis team began their 2021 fall play at the Fall Ranked Spotlight in Cary, North Carolina, competing against a variety of talented players from across the country.

Fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong went 2-3 in singles after battling against multiple top-60 competitors. Achong finished the weekend on a high note and captured her third victory against a top-50 player after defeating No. 50 Megan Davies.

Additionally, fifth-year senior Eden Richardson posted a 5-2 mark across all competitions. Richardson dominated the courts on Friday and Saturday, winning three straight sets but lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals of the Singles B Flight Main Draw to Ohio State’s Sydni Ratliff.

Richardson and Achong worked hard together and earned two victories in doubles. The pair defeated Tennesee’s Tenika McGiffin and Eleonora Molinaro 6-2, and Ohio State’s Luna Dormet and Lucia Marzal 6-4.

Returning this year with high expectations, No. 16 ranked sophomore Isabella Pfennig ended the weekend with a 1-4 mark in the Singles A Flight.

After four action-packed days, the Canes finished with a 9-13 mark in singles and a 3-3 ledger in doubles.

Pfennig continued to represent the University of Miami at the ITA Women’s All-American Championships, having won her first match 6-3 and 6-2 over South Carolina’s No. 29 Ayana Akli, earning her third top-30 victory of her career.

The next day, Pfennig faced Duke’s No. 5 Georgia Drummy, her highest-ranked opponent to date, and played her heart out, taking two consecutive sets to a tiebreaker. Drummy, however, won the match 7-6 (10-8), 6-7 (5-7) and 6-2.

The University of Miami women’s tennis team played against opponents from Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa State and Vanderbilt at the June Stewart Invitational, finishing 14-6 in singles and 7-2 in doubles. During the first day of the tournament, the Canes swept their singles matches against Kentucky and doubles matches versus Illinois.

On Saturday, Miami swept all doubles matches again which brought them to 9-0 against the Kentucky Wildcats.

In singles, Miami finished 2-3 against Vanderbilt and 1-1 versus Iowa State, and on the final day of the tournament, Miami went 5-2 in singles competition and 1-2 in doubles.

Diana Khodan was a star throughout the tournament as she dominated the singles competition, winning all three of her matches. Additionally, she partnered with Maya Tahan to win a 3-0 ledger in doubles.

At the ITA Southeast Regional Championships, Miami went 10-9 in singles and 6-3 in doubles, combining for a record of 16-12. On the first day of the tournament, third-year sophomore Nada Dimovska won her first match 4-6, 6-2 and 1-0 (10-4), but fell to University of South Florida’s Kate Sharabura.

Maya Tahan and Diana Khodan earned a doubles victory against Florida Atlantic’s Millie-Mae Matthews and Carina Sommer.

Miami went 7-4 in singles play on Friday, with wins from Khodan, Achong, Pfennig and Richardson. Additionally, Achong and Pfennig won another match which took them to the round of 16.

In doubles, all three duos won their matches, taking them to the Round of 16 as well.

On Saturday morning, Achong and Pfenning lost both of their matches. In doubles, however, Khodan and Tahan had a stellar performance, defeating the tournament’s top seed pair, No. 20 Victoria Allen and Petra Hule of Florida State.

Additionally, Achong and Richardson joined their teammates in the quarterfinals after beating Georgia Tech’s Ava Hrstar and Kylie Bilchev 8-6, yet both duos lost their second matches.

The Hurricanes look forward to continuing their fall play at the Miami Fall Invite which will take place from Friday through Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables.