So it comes down to this. The Miami Hurricanes Men’s tennis team faces a NCAA berth-or go home dual match this Saturday against their arch-rival Florida State Seminoles. It’s only fitting that the Canes’ three seniors will go up against the Noles to finish their careers off with a bang.
The Men’s tennis season has been a roller coaster. It started off at a low point, losing to Central Florida and South Florida. Then came the winning streak and wins over four ranked teams to climb all the way back from the Walking Unranked to No. 39 in the country and a NCAA spot suddenly in their sights. But then came the 5-match losing streak, highlighted by an 0-7 slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am humiliation at the hands of the evil Irish of Notre Dame in South Bend. They finally broke the losing streak yesterday against Boston College with a 7-0 win that was not as impressive as the final score suggested. This leaves the Canes with a ranking of No. 46 and a record of 14-9 (4-6).
The criterion for the NCAA selection process is simple. There are 64 teams selected for the NCAA tennis tournament. The 31 (32 for the women) conference champions get an automatic berth. The remaining teams must have at least a .500 record over the regular season. Going by this, there are presently 68 teams ahead of Miami for a selection berth. According to Massey’s Ratings, the Canes have a SOS (strength of schedule) ranking of No. 59 so that isn’t much help. The Canes must beat a higher-ranked team to have enough to jump ahead of a few teams and sneak in there.
Florida State gives the Canes that opportunity. Florida State’s ranking has been in the 20s this season but they have been in a slump recently. Their ranking (as of April 14) is No. 28 but they have lost five of their last six and should drop a bit in the standings when it comes out on April 15. Still, they present Miami with a chance to beat another ranked ACC team and jump up a few spots.
The all-time series between the two teams is 46 wins and 17 losses in Miami’s favor. However, since the ‘90s, the rivalry has been even. The Noles have won the last two and seven of the last ten dual matches with the Canes. They are currently ranked No. 28 and have a record of 16-10 (4-6). They have Dominic Cotrone (No. 84) and Christian Gonzalez Mendez (No. 100) in the singles rankings as well as two teams in the doubles. In contrast, the Canes have only Omar Aly (No. 70) in the singles and none in the doubles. The opponents that the Noles have beaten and their overall record are almost identical to the Canes.
So it comes down to this. It would be great for seniors Aly, Gabriel Flores and Diego Soto to finish their careers in the NCAA tournament. But arch-rival Florida States stands in the way. Beat them or bust.
Next Match: Florida State, April 19, Saturday, 11 a.m. The Neil Schiff Tennis Center, Coral Gables