Miami women’s tennis splits pair of matches during ITA Kick-Off Weekend

Miami (3-1) traveled to Waco, Texas, to compete in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Hurd Tennis Center on Jan. 28 and 29. While there, they narrowly lost to USC (5-0), 4-3 before bouncing back against Kansas (0-3), 4-1.

ITA Kickoff Weekend, which began in 2009, is an annual tradition that serves as an early indicator of who the best collegiate tennis teams will be that season. Consisting of several four-team tournaments across the country, the winners earn a highly coveted spot at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, set for Feb. 11–14 in Madison, Wisconsin.

In Waco, No. 22 Baylor (2-2) hosted one of the tournaments. As the one seed, they faced fourth-seeded Kansas on Friday, while second-seeded Miami, ranked No. 23, took on third-seeded USC, ranked No. 15.

The Canes and the Trojans proved to be formidable foes, as the overall match took over four hours, with a dramatic third-set tiebreaker on Court 6 determining the winner.

UM started off strong by winning both doubles matches. Sophomores Audrey Boch-Collins and Isabella Pfennig defeated USC’s Sloane Morra and Danielle Wilson, 6-1. Third-year sophomores Diana Khodan and Maya Tahan then secured the doubles point by downing No. 26 Eryn Cayetano and Grace Piper, 6-3.

USC’s Salma Ewing and Snow Han, ranked as the No. 23 doubles pair in the country, held a narrow 5-4 lead over Miami’s No. 40-ranked pairing of fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong and fifth-year senior Eden Richardson, before stopping the match when the Canes took the doubles point.

In singles, USC tied things up when Piper beat Khodan, 6-1, 6-4.

After losing the first set, No. 76 Pfennig stormed back to give the Canes another point as she bested No. 39 Han, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Richardson fought valiantly against USC’s No. 1 Cayetano, but eventually lost 6-2, 5-7, 3-6. Tied at 2-2, the Trojans took their first lead of the day when No. 12 Ewing came back from an early deficit to overcome No. 104 Achong, 5-7, 7-5, 6-0.

Miami’s Boch-Collins, a transfer from Baylor, impressed her former team as she narrowly took down Morra, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. At a 3-3 deadlock, all eyes turned to Court 6, where it took two tiebreakers from USC’s Wilson to finish off Tahan, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-7 (6-8).

“USC was simply a little braver than us today, plain and simple,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said.

On Saturday, Miami dominated Kansas, who lost to No. 22 Baylor the day before.

UM took the doubles point, but Kansas’s Tiffany Lagarde and Sonia Smagina handed Miami their first doubles loss of the season by defeating Diana Khodan and Maya Tahan, 6-1.

No. 40 Daevenia Achong and Eden Richardson quickly evened the score by downing Malkia Nguonoue and Maria Titova, 6-4. The Hurricanes then seized the doubles point as Audrey Boch-Collins and Isabella Pfennig bested Raphaelle Lacasse and Mariana Manyoma-Velasquez, 6-4.

From there, Miami cruised, winning three singles matches in a row to finish off the Jayhawks.

Tahan trounced Manyoma-Velasquez 6-2, 6-2, and Boch-Collins followed with an emphatic 6-3, 6-2 win over Lacasse. No. 76 Pfennig sealed the match for Miami, tallying a 6-2, 6-2 win over Smagina to make the Hurricanes .500 on the weekend.

The remaining two contests were left unfinished.

“I think it says a lot about our character to bounce back so quickly against a very solid Kansas team,” Yaroshuk-Tews said.

Next up, the Canes will square off against Old Dominion on Saturday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Florida. The match is set to begin at noon.