Hurricanes show grit, win both matches in an intense doubleheader

Fourth-year junior Franco Aubone returns the ball during his singles match against Army at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 9, 2022.
Fourth-year junior Franco Aubone returns the ball during his singles match against Army at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 9, 2022. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

When the Miami men’s tennis team (12-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) scheduled a midweek doubleheader before the season started, they likely did not expect their first opponent, Memphis, to be as formidable as it ended up turning out. The Tigers (8-3) had shot up to No. 26 nationally, just behind the No. 24 Canes.

As the match began, UM’s doubles woes continued. Oscar Cutting and Pablo Alemany Malea brushed past fourth-year junior Juan Martin Jalif and fifth-year senior Bojan Jankulovski, 6-3, to give the Tigers an early advantage from Court 2. Next, the top-ranked pair of fourth-year junior Franco Aubone and fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad fell 6-4, conceding the doubles point to Memphis.

Playing from behind for the third consecutive match, UM would need to win at least four of the singles matches. As the first sets began, three Hurricanes grabbed control.

On Court 6, freshman Martin Katz dominated his opponent, 6-2, 6-2, to put Miami on the board. No. 99 Dan Martin also took care of the Tigers’ Oscar Cutting, 6-3, 6-4, to continue his personal win streak for the Canes. Using consistency and perfect execution during the important points of the match, Jankulovski was able to put the match away, 7-5, 6-3, to put the Canes one point away from victory.

UM still lacked the necessary fourth point to win the match, and things were not looking good on the other three courts. Hannestad had just fallen in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, on Court 3, and both Jalif and fourth-year junior Oren Vasser had also dropped their opening sets.

Fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad prepares for a doubles rally against Army on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad prepares for a doubles rally against Army on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

Jalif would respond first, bouncing back after losing the first set, 2-6, to flip the script and win the next set, 6-2. He entered the third set with momentum but immediately lost his serve. Despite his best efforts, this break was too much to overcome, and Jalif would lose the final set, 4-6.

This left the match squarely on the shoulders of Vasser. He lost the first set, 4-6, but then won a nail-biting second set, 7-6 (8-6). With the entire audience watching, including the Army men’s tennis team, Vasser did not back down from the pressure. He set a blistering pace in the third set and jumped to a 4-0 lead. His opponent was then overcome with an illness and left the match, giving the fourth point and victory to Miami.

The Hurricanes barely escaped with the win and had to then immediately turn around and play an entire other match.

This time around for UM, things were more straightforward. Army (9-11) was no match for Miami’s firepower. The Canes clicked and dominated all three doubles matches. On both Courts 1 and 2, Miami would win, 6-1.

With the advantage in hand, the Hurricanes would complete the rest of the match swiftly. Across all six courts, Miami would win the opening set. Katz finished his match first, winning 6-2, 6-1. Aubone was next, winning comfortably, 6-1, 6-3. Jankulovski would collect the final point, 6-3, 6-3, to end the long afternoon.

To conserve energy, the rest of the matches were abandoned, with UM winning in every match. The Canes showed resilience and endurance, winning both matches on the day. They now set their sights on ACC rival North Carolina this Friday at 5 p.m. at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.