Richardson hands Navarro her second collegiate loss, Miami women’s tennis dominates No. 11 Virginia

Fifth-year senior Eden Richardson rallies against Carol Lee of Georgia Tech on Friday, Februart 25, 2022 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Fifth-year senior Eden Richardson rallies against Carol Lee of Georgia Tech on Friday, Februart 25, 2022 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.

Coming into the day, Virginia’s No. 5 Emma Navarro, the reigning NCAA champion, had only lost once in her college career, sporting a 36-1 singles record – that is, until she faced Eden Richardson.

Miami’s No. 1 singles player shocked Navarro, defeating her in straight sets to lead No. 10 UM past the Cavaliers, 6-1, Sunday afternoon at the Virginia Tennis Facility at the Boar’s Head Resort. The Hurricanes’ (11-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) win over No. 11 Virginia (11-4, 3-3 ACC) marked their fourth top-20 victory of the season, with the Cavaliers becoming the highest-ranked opponent they’ve beaten all year.

“These kids are playing ball,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I’m so proud of how we’re playing for each other, for this school and for something bigger than simply our own performances. The mindset is paying dividends right now.”

Just like on Friday against Virginia Tech, the Canes dropped the first doubles match before rallying to take the next two.

In a top-20 contest, Richardson, a fifth-year senior, and fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong, ranked No. 16, fell to No. 11 Emma Navarro and Hibah Shaikh, 6-2.

In another ranked match, third-year sophomores Diana Khodan and Maya Tahan, ranked No. 72, did not drop a single game against No. 73 Sofia Munera and Amber O-Dell, cruising to a 6-0 victory. Sophomores Audrey-Boch Collins and Isabella Pfennig then clinched the doubles point, taking the last three games versus freshman Elaine Chervinsky and junior Natasha Subhash for a 6-2 triumph.

To start singles off, Boch-Collins set the tone, thrashing Shaikh, 6-0, 6-1, in one of her best performances of the season to give UM a second point. Moments later, No. 112 Pfennig extended Miami’s lead further, stunning No. 26 Subhash, 6-2, 6-2, in a major upset.

Up 3-0, No. 58 Richardson made history to seal the win, giving No. 5 Navarro her second-ever collegiate loss, while becoming the first player to beat her in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, too. Richardson’s stellar performance ended on an unforced error caused by her blazing-fast return, which broke Navarro’s serve.

What’s more, Navarro’s only other loss also came against Miami, when she dropped a 6-1, 4-6, 3-6, affair to Estela Perez-Somarriba, another NCAA champion, on April 4, 2021. Since then, she had won 22 matches in a row before Sunday.

“[Richardson] played some incredible tennis today,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She executed the big points and believed she could get the job done against a great player on the road.”

The remaining three matches were all played out, with the Canes taking two out of three.

First, No. 56 Achong secured a come-from-behind victory, besting No. 50 Chervinsky, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, in a top-60 showdown.

Virginia recorded its only point of the day on Court 6, where sophomore Sara Ziodato downed Khodan, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, in a three-set thriller. Tahan closed out the Hurricanes’ spectacular day with a 7-5, 7-5 decision over Munera to make the final margin 6-1.

UM is now 20-6 all-time versus Virginia, with three consecutive wins.

Next up, Miami returns to the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables on Friday at 5 p.m. for a tough test against No. 1 North Carolina.