It was an emotional weekend for the ‘Canes and fifth-year senior, Daevenia Achong, as she played her final two collegiate tennis matches in Coral Gables. In her five years at UM, she has won multiple academic awards, received ACC Player of the Week and reached the finals of the NCAA Doubles Tournament.
The Hurricanes made sure Achong’s final two home matches ended in victories. The ‘Canes dispatched the Louisville Cardinals, 7-0, on Thursday and bested No. 23 Notre Dame, 5-2, on Saturday.
In the match against the Cardinals, the ‘Canes could do no wrong. They didn’t drop a set on the day, leaving no doubt about who the better team was. In doubles, the No. 52 pair of Achong and fourth-year junior Maya Tahan won easily, 6-1, on Court 1. On Court 3, junior Audrey Boch-Collins and freshman Mia Mack closed off the Cardinals (8-12), 6-4, to put the Hurricanes ahead.
In singles, Achong finished first yet again as she flew to a 6-0, 6-1 victory on Court 2. Redshirt sophomore Alexa Noel, the No. 7 ranked player in the country, crushed yet another opponent on Court 1, this time winning 6-4, 6-2.
Freshman Mia Mack ensured victory for UM 13-5), as she won 6-4, 6-3, giving Miami a 4-0 advantage in points. With the season winding down, the coaches opted to push forward with the remaining matches.
Tahan won 6-0, 6-3, on Court 6, Boch-Collins finished her opponent off 6-1, 6-2, on Court 4, and junior Isabella Pfennig closed off the day, winning 6-3, 6-4, on Court 3. There was nothing to critique as the ‘Canes tallied a flawless victory.
Next up were the Fighting Irish. Both teams had plenty to prove. It was a top-25 matchup as No. 23 Notre Dame (13-9) looked to pull off the upset against the No. 14 Hurricanes.
In doubles, things did not go as smoothly as they did against the Cardinals. Boch-Collins and Mack fell short on Court 3, 3-6, to give the Irish the lead. Achong and Tahan rebounded, 6-4, on Court 1, giving Achong doubles perfection for the weekend. Notre Dame had the last laugh, as on Court 2 it edged Noel and Pfennig, 5-7, to claim the point.
Down a point, the ‘Canes quickly righted the ship as they rattled off five straight victories. Tahan bulldozed her opponent, 6-1, 6-0, on Court 6. Next, Pfennig won in reverse order, 6-0, 6-1, on Court 3 to put UM ahead. Boch-Collins was next, as she dominated, 6-3, 6-1, on Court 4. Noel clinched the match on Court 1, as she beat No. 53 Page Freeman to give the Hurricanes the victory, 6-3, 6-4.
With Achong and Mack still playing, the teams decided to play on, likely in part because it was Achong’s final singles match at home. Mack won quickly, 6-2, 6-4, on Court 5 to turn the attention to a back-and-forth match on Court 2.
After losing the first set 4-6, Achong rebounded with the support of her teammates to force a 10-point tiebreak for the match. She ended up falling, 4-10, to give the Irish their second victory of the day. However, this didn’t sour the team’s mood as Achong was mobbed by her teammates.
“[Achong] has been an incredible leader for the program. I think she’s been an incredible representative for the school,” Miami head coach Page Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She’s a very hard-working, straightforward student-athlete. She leads the program well. She’s an extension of myself in the locker room and, I think, outside of the locker room.”
All that’s left for UM are its final two road matches of the year, the ACC Tournament, and the NCAA’s. Next up, the ‘Canes head to Death Valley to face off against Clemson. Afterward, UM is off to Atlanta to battle against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.