Richardson and Achong fall in NCAA title game

Fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong and fifth-year senior Eden Richardson hold their second place trophies after the NCAA Doubles Championship title match on May 28.
Fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong and fifth-year senior Eden Richardson hold their second place trophies after the NCAA Doubles Championship title match on May 28. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

The Hurricanes’ magical run in the NCAA Doubles Championship has ended.

Eden Richardson and Daevenia Achong, ranked No. 13 nationally, lost a 6-2, 7-5 decision to No. 1 Jaeda Daniel and Neil Miller of NC State in the NCAA title game on Saturday afternoon at the Khan Outdoor Sports Complex in Urbana, Ill.

Along the way, they downed three higher-ranked foes and became the first Miami duo to make the final since 1988.

“I saw an NC State team come out and just [play] pretty much perfect. I mean, they were pretty perfect at the beginning of the match,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said.” I think it put us on our back toes a little bit. You’re in a big moment, playing a team that’s playing aggressive and not really missing at all. I think it took them a little while to recover from that. I have to give credit to NC State; they played great tennis.”

NC State set the tone early, taking the first seven points of the match to go up 2-0. Richardson and Achong, who lost to Daniel and Miller, 6-4, in March, then held to secure their first game.

The Wolfpack established a commanding lead by winning the next three games. Down 5-1 and facing a set point, fourth-year junior Achong and fifth-year senior Richardson fought it off to stay alive. But NC State held in the next game to take the first set, 6-2.

The second set was much more competitive, but the Canes fell just short.

Daniel and Miller went up 2-0 after breaking at deuce in the first game and holding in the second. Both teams then held, resulting in a 3-1 NC State lead. The Hurricanes responded by breaking at deuce to equalize, 3-3. The Wolfpack returned the favor by breaking at deuce to regain the lead, but Miami won two consecutive games to go up 5-4.

The comeback ended there, as Daniel and Miller took the next three games to clinch the NCAA Doubles Championship title game, 6-2, 7-5.

“We changed our formations a little bit; we stepped back. We saw that we were just targets at the net and it wasn’t working for us and it was working for them,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of the second set. “We made that adjustment and it worked there for a while, and then they made another adjustment and we didn’t really recover from that one. So, we did something well and then they did something a little bit better.”

The loss ended one of the best seasons for a Miami duo in program history. Richardson and Achong finished 29-11 on the year, with an 11-5 record against ranked opponents. They recorded three top-10 victories, including an upset over No. 2 UNC in the NCAA Doubles Championship Sweet 16.

The Hurricane pair earned ITA All-American status, and they are also part of the ITA All-Star Team.

“I’m just so proud of them. I’m proud of the success they’ve had,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I’m proud of their seasons in singles and doubles, [as well as] just as people. I think they have a little sour taste in their mouths, but they have a lot to be proud of and we’re, obviously, very proud of them.”

Eden Richardson’s stellar collegiate career concluded on Saturday. During her five-year campaign, she won the 2018 NCAA Doubles Championship at LSU and became the first player to make the NCAA finals at two different schools. Richardson won 193 times, with 47 ranked victories in her illustrious career. She will soon be a three-time ITA All-American.

Daevenia Achong will return to Miami next season for her final year of eligibility.