The Miami Hurricanes tennis teams went on the road this weekend; one team desperate to find a conference win anywhere they could, and the other team looking to extend their winning streak as they run through their own conference schedule. Both teams found what they were looking for by the end of the weekend.
The men’s team went on the road; to Clemson on Friday and then on to Georgia Tech on Sunday. Against the No. 23 Clemson Tigers, the Canes fought well and Omar Aly was even able to pick up a win in the number one singles position. But they did not have enough to beat the Tigers on the road and went down 6-1. However, there was still an opportunity to salvage the road trip. The No. 52 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have been struggling recently, losing their last four dual matches including an embarrassing loss to Georgia State on Friday. This was a great chance for the Canes to grab a road win against a ranked ACC opponent since defeating No. 59 NC State in Raleigh in 2011.
The doubles was close as it could get. The Yellow Jackets won the first doubles match, defeating Canes Gabriel Flores and Diego Soto in the No. 2 doubles 8-6. No. 1 doubles team Aly and Wilfredo Gonzales fell behind 4-7, only to fight back to 7-7 and force a tiebreak. No. 3 doubles team William Albanese and Henrique Tsukamoto also fell behind 1-5 before battling back to 7-7 and a tie break. The No. 1 doubles match was a dog fight that went back and forth. The Canes team held a match point at 14-13, but finally fell 16-14 to give the doubles point to Georgia Tech. No. 3 Albanese and Tsukamoto were also in their own battle at 7-7 in the tie break so it very easily could have gone the other way.
After losing such a close doubles point, how would the team respond? Would they give up, thinking it’s just too hard to win an ACC match on the road? Or would they fight back?
The Canes fought back. They shook off the loss and came roaring out of the gates in the singles matches, taking five of the first six sets. Aly capped off his amazing weekend by grabbing another win in the No. 1 position to give the Canes their first point. Tsukamoto and Flores quickly followed with straight set victories to give the Canes a 3-1 lead. The Canes needed just one more win and things were looking good. Albanese came back to win his second set to force a third set, but Soto and Gonzalez both dropped their second sets and all three remaining singles matches went into the final set.
At this point there was an uneasy feeling that this just might slip away, but Soto and Albanese had other plans. As if trying to see who could finish first, Soto raced to a 5-0 lead while Albanese grabbed a 5-1 lead. Soto finished his match off quickly with a 6-0 set to give the Canes their much needed 5-2 win. Gonzalez fell 6-2 in his third set, but after being out for so long, fighting in an incredible tiebreak and getting to a third set in his singles match seems to show that he is gradually getting his "court legs" back.
It was a very uplifting win for the Canes and while an NCAA tournament berth seems a bit out of reach at this point, a return back into the rankings and a .500 record for the year could still be a reality. The guys host Troy, Boston University and Wisconsin during the next week at The Schiff and all three are winnable.
Meanwhile, the only thing the women’s team failed to do over the weekend was provide an interesting story line. They thoroughly dominated Pittsburgh and their former assistant coach Alex Santos with a score of 6-1 on Friday, and then traveled down to Raleigh on Sunday to give the No. 64 North Carolina Wolfpack a 7-0 beat down. The ladies could see another jump up the rankings this week. For their next match they will host non-conference foe Baylor at The Shiff this week.
Men’s team: Troy (Wednesday, March 12, 2 p.m.), Boston University (Saturday, March 15, 11 a.m.), Wisconsin (Monday, March 17, 11 a.m.)
Women’s team: Baylor (Saturday, March 15, 4 p.m)