Miami men’s tennis falls to Virginia Tech in match marred by controversy

Graduate student Dan Martin returns the ball during his singles match versus sophomore Ryan Fishback at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on April 8, 2022.
Graduate student Dan Martin returns the ball during his singles match versus sophomore Ryan Fishback at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on April 8, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

When the Canes took to the court Friday afternoon, the match began like every other. It would soon be turned on its head with a controversial disqualification and a heated exchange between a coach and an umpire.

Miami (14-7, 3-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) was pitted against Virginia Tech (6-14, 2-7 ACC). Despite the Hokies’ sub-par record, they had played other ACC rivals close the entire year and were hungry for a win.

As doubles began, UM controlled the match from the start. On Court 3, fifth-year seniors Bojan Jankulovski and Dan Martin demolished the opposing pair, 6-1. On Court 2, senior Benjamin Hannestad and freshman Martin Katz won a close but decisive match, 6-3, to give the Hurricanes the doubles point. On Court 1, juniors Franco Aubone and Juan Martin Jalif were down 2-4 but had seized control of the match when the match was abandoned.

UM carried this momentum into singles play and grabbed control on Courts 1, 2 and 3. On the first court, Martin had a masterful performance. He hit scintillating one-handed backhand winners that left his opponent shaking his head in frustration. He won the first set in dominant fashion, 6-1, and won a hard-earned second set, 6-4. Martin now has 21 wins on the season, cementing his dominance at the top position.

Fifth-year senior Bojan Jankulovski returns the ball during his singles match versus sophomore Hugo Maia at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on April 8, 2022.
Fifth-year senior Bojan Jankulovski returns the ball during his singles match versus sophomore Hugo Maia at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on April 8, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

On Court 2, Jankulovski showed similar poise. He fought his way past his opponent through sheer determination and an unwillingness to lose. He won with the same scoreline as Martin, 6-1, 6-4, to put the Canes on the edge of victory.

On the third court, Hannestad looked like he was about to clinch the match. He played lights-out in the first set to win, 6-4, and was tied in the second set, 5-5, when everything fell apart. The Virginia Tech player was serving the ball and won the point in a dramatic fashion. He let out a booming “vamos” while looking directly at Hannestad. At the next point, Hannestad delivered a beautiful winner before uttering a cheer of his own.

The chair umpire announced a point penalty against Hannestad. This lit a fuse as Hannestad proceeded to question the call and demand an explanation. Miami’s assistant coach also came in to defend his player, during which the umpire then called a game penalty against Hannestad. Hannestad voiced one final remark, calling the umpire a “snowflake.” This was the last straw, and the umpire disqualified Hannestad from the match, awarding the win to Virginia Tech.

This confrontation lasted less than two minutes, spiraling out of control after the initial point penalty. Typically, a player will get disqualified only if there are repeated offenses throughout the course of the match. To have a point, game and match penalty awarded in such rapid succession is unheard of.

When Miami head coach Aljosa Piric heard the news, he rushed to the court and demanded an explanation. A heated exchange ensued before an assistant coach pulled Piric away.

The disqualification completely changed the dynamics of the game. The Hokies were now down 1-3 but were looking strong on all three of the remaining courts. Katz would lose on Court 5, 2-6, 6-7 (3-7), in a grueling match. Jalif would fall in three sets, 2-6, 6-2, 2-6, on Court 4 to level the match at 3-3.

On Court 6, Aubone was giving the match everything he had. He was down 2-5 in the first set before winning, 7-5. He lost the next set, 3-6, and was showing signs of fatigue going into the final set. The two opponents traded breaks, and Aubone put up a valiant effort, but he eventually fell, 3-6, to give the Hokies the win.

Freshman Martin Katz returns the ball during his and doubles partner fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad’s match versus freshman Matt Harper and sophomore Scott Sculley at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on April 8, 2022.
Freshman Martin Katz returns the ball during his and doubles partner fifth-year senior Benjamin Hannestad’s match versus freshman Matt Harper and sophomore Scott Sculley at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on April 8, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

This match had a sour ending, and afterward, Piric would confront the umpires once again. He was engaged in a heated shouting match before storming out of the clubhouse, clearly upset. This was a tough loss for the Canes after an impressive previous week.

Miami will have to regroup when they play Virginia this Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. The match starts at 1 p.m. and will be Senior Day for Jankulovski, Aubone, Hannestad and Vasser.