Miami men’s tennis ends slide, tallies major win against No. 26 Florida State

Fourth-year junior Franco Aubone returns the ball during the second match of the second set of his singles match versus Seminole redshirt freshman John Bernard at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 30, 2022.
Fourth-year junior Franco Aubone returns the ball during the second match of the second set of his singles match versus Seminole redshirt freshman John Bernard at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 30, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

On Court 6, fourth-year junior Franco Aubone has just edged ahead, 8-7, in the tiebreak. His opponent, John Bernard, has already saved two match points with miraculous winners. If Aubone let this chance slip away, a potential third set would be both emotionally and physically exhausting.

He looks at his coach before lining up to serve. The point begins, and Aubone hits deep backhands that push his opponent backward. He rushes the net, but Bernard anticipates the movement and rips a forehand with the same intensity as his previous winners.

Only this time, Aubone reads the shot and makes a spectacular diving drop-shot volley that barely clears the net before bouncing to a stop. His teammates rush the court as his match seals the victory against arch-rival Florida State.

No. 37 Miami (14-6, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) had been off to a great start to the season, but ACC play has been extremely competitive. After losing four straight close matches, a fifth to No. 26 Florida State (12-7, 2-5 ACC) might have been the dagger.

To begin the day, a thrilling doubles point was played. On Court 3, seniors Bojan Jankulovski and Dan Martin decimated their opponents, 6-0, without breaking a sweat.

Senior Benjamin Hannestad returns the ball during the seventh game of the first set of his singles match versus Seminole senior Richard Thongoana at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 30, 2022.
Senior Benjamin Hannestad returns the ball during the seventh game of the first set of his singles match versus Seminole senior Richard Thongoana at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 30, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

On Court 2, freshman Martin Katz and senior Benjamin Hannestad had an early advantage but could not maintain their edge, losing 4-6.

Court 1 was looking the bleakest of all, as Aubone and fourth-year junior Juan Martin Jalif were in a funk as they fell behind 2-5. For Jalif, this was especially frustrating because FSU was his former school before transferring to Miami.

With a loss seemingly inevitable, the Canes refused to go down without a fight. They battled off a match point at 3-5, held their own serve to make it 4-5 and broke FSU once again on another match point.

Aubone and Jalif did not stop there. They rattled off two more games to claim the match, 7-5, and give the Hurricanes the doubles point. Their incredible comeback featured five straight games and three breaks of serve to let Jalif claim victory over his former team.

In singles, Miami and Florida State were locked in a very competitive battle. Both Hannestad and Jankulovski made light work of their opponents. Hannestad finished first, cruising to a 6-3, 6-2 straight sets win on Court 3. Jankulovksi was equally dominant, winning 6-3, 6-1, on Court 2.

The rest of the matches were not as straightforward. Aubone looked like he would be the first Cane to finish, as he got off to a blistering 6-1 start. However, the match quickly turned, and he found himself down 3-0 in the second. A back-and-forth battle ensued before his eventual dramatic victory in the tiebreak, 7-6 (9-7), giving UM a clean sweep on the day.

Graduate student Dan Martin returns the ball during the fifth game of the first set of his match versus Seminole junior Loris Pourroy at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 30, 2022.
Graduate student Dan Martin returns the ball during the fifth game of the first set of his match versus Seminole junior Loris Pourroy at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on March 30, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

In the matches that went unfinished, on Court 1, Martin was locked in a high-skill dual with No. 46 Loris Pourroy. Both players showed their artistry and style as they hit no-look shots and high-velocity winners. Martin dropped the first set by the slimmest of margins, 5-7, but was up a break in the second set, 4-3.

On Court 4, senior Oren Vasser fell in the first set, 4-6, and had just broken his opponent’s serve to stay alive in the second set, 5-6, when the match was called.

Katz’s match was also extremely tight. He had won a dogfight in the first set, 7-6, and was locked at 4-4.

Miami secured a sweet victory in a hard-fought match to finally get back on the right side of the win column. It returns to action on Friday as it travels up to Boston to play Boston College. The Eagles are one of the weaker teams in the ACC, a welcome change for the Canes after facing four teams ranked in the top 30 in the last five matches.