Miami blows past No. 20 North Carolina State in bounce-back performance

Fifth-year senior Bojan Jankulovski celebrates after a point during a singles match against North Carolina State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 7.
Fifth-year senior Bojan Jankulovski celebrates after a point during a singles match against North Carolina State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 7, 2022.

Fifth-year senior Bojan Jankulovski pumped his fist and let out a roar as his teammates and fans erupted in applause. With his singles victory, Miami (10-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) clinched its first ranked win of the season against the North Carolina State Wolfpack (10-4, 1-2 ACC) on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Coral Gables.

This was a huge emotional victory for UM men’s tennis after its heartbreaking loss only two days prior. In its match against No. 7 Wake Forest, it left everything on the court and came up just short. This time around, the Hurricanes were not denied.

Following the trend of recent matches, the Wolfpack jumped out to an early lead in doubles on all three courts. On Court 2, fourth-year juniors Juan Martin Jalif and Oren Vasser fell to No. 51 Fons Van Sambeek and Martin Rocens (NC State), 6-2.

Next, No. 34 Robin Catry and Luca Staeheli defeated fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad and fourth-year junior Franco Aubone, 6-3, to end a decisive doubles point in favor of the Wolfpack.

Fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad and fourth-year junior Franco Aubone during a doubles match against North Carolina State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 7.
Fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad and fourth-year junior Franco Aubone during a doubles match against North Carolina State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 7, 2022.

As singles commenced, the momentum completely shifted. On Courts 4 and 6, Martin Katz and Vasser stormed out to early leads. Katz, the freshman from Belgium, completed his match, 6-3, 6-2, to quickly even the match score at 1-1. Only a few minutes later, Vasser also finished, dominating his opponent, 6-2, 6-0, to push the Canes ahead.

On Court 1, graduate Dan Martin continued his unstoppable play, beating yet another higher-ranked opponent. This time it was against No. 84 Rafa Izquierdo Luque, who played well but could not match Martin’s deadly accuracy and pace. Martin won in commanding style, 6-3, 6-2, to put UM one point away from victory.

With the match tantalizingly close, the crowd and players shifted their focus to Jankulovski on Court 2. The Macedonian native had won a close first set, 6-4, and was locked in a close battle for the second set.

Fourth-year junior Oren Vasser celebrates a point during a singles match against North Carolina State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 7.
Fourth-year junior Oren Vasser celebrates after a point during a singles match against North Carolina State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 7, 2022.

At 3-3, Jankulovski played a masterful game to break his opponent, No. 101 Robin Catry, with the opportunity to serve out the set and the match. With the court lined from edge to edge with fans and players, Jankulovski did not succumb to the pressure and converted the game and the match, pushing the Canes across the finish line.

Hannestad was defeated on Court 3 after losing a heartbreaking tiebreak, and Jalif was in the middle of a third set on Court 5 when the match was called.

The final match score stood at 4-2 and marked the first win against North Carolina State in four years. This win cements Miami as a serious power in the ACC as they continue to play in the coming weeks. Next up is a doubleheader against Memphis and Army. The matches will take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively, on March 9 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.