W. Tennis Rallies Past No. 22 UCF, 4-3, to Reach Sweet 16
By Alex Schwartz
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – For the 12th time in 13 years, the University of Miami women’s tennis team is headed to the NCAA Team Championship Sweet 16.
Miami (18-7, 11-3 ACC), both ranked and seeded No. 16, came back from 1-0 and 3-2 deficits against No. 22 UCF Saturday in the Round of 32 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, en route to a 4-3 victory.
The win clinched Miami’s 23rd all-time Sweet 16 appearance, including the 13th under 17th-year head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews.
“It feels so good. To do it with this group, through the adversity that we’ve had, for this team to just stick together and fight is just [amazing],” Yaroshuk-Tews said of being back in the Sweet 16. “We’re getting there with pure fight; that’s what we’re about. They were able to do that today through nerves and through doubts. They just stuck it out and they fought. I’m so proud of them.”
The Hurricanes took the first doubles match, as sophomore Dominika Paterova and freshman Ulyana Shirokova won the last four games against Monica Matias and Natalia Serrano for a 6-2 victory.
However, UCF (20-5, 5-1 AAC) earned the doubles point with victories in the other two affairs. In the lone ranked matchup, No. 61 Ksenia Kuznetsova and Maria Martinez won four games in a row to down the No. 68-ranked pair of sophomore Estela Perez-Somarriba and junior Daniella Roldan, 6-3.
In the decisive match, senior Sinead Lohan and Ana Madcur pulled within a game after facing a 0-4 deficit, but could not climb all the way back. Silvia Bordes and Rebeka Stolmar posted a 6-4 triumph to give the Knights the early edge.
Third-ranked Perez-Somarriba leveled the score by notching the opening singles point. The Madrid native cruised past her fellow countrywoman, Martinez, 6-1, 6-3, to improve to 26-1 in spring singles play.
Shirokova put Miami ahead for the first time by finishing off a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Serrano, but the lead did not last long. Moments later, Madcur dropped a 2-6, 1-6 decision to Matias that evened the score at two.
The Knights went back in front, 3-2, shortly thereafter, as Stolmar registered a 6-2, 6-4 win against Roldan.
Needing to win both remaining matches, Miami first got a victory from Lohan in the last home match of her career. The two-time ITA All-American moved to 20-6 this spring and became the fourth Hurricane to amass 130 career wins by downing Kuznetsova, 6-2, 6-4.
All eyes then turned to court six, where Paterova held a 6-2, 4-3 lead on Emilia Granstrom. Right after Lohan won, Paterova increased her lead to 5-3 and then she closed out the match. The Unhost, Czech Republic, native was mobbed by her teammates after locking in the 6-2, 6-3 triumph to seal the victory and run her personal winning streak to seven.
“She was just ripping balls, just playing great tennis. Her level of tennis was about the highest that I’ve seen it in a long time,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of Paterova. “She’s actually truly earned that [clinching win] because she’s been busting her tail at number six basically all season, through thick and thin. She’s kept just an incredible attitude and work ethic. So, for her to come through in that moment was awesome, but it wasn’t a surprise. She earned that and so for her to show that off today was just cool.”
The Hurricanes upped their all-time in NCAA Team Championship mark to 53-32, including 25-1 at home, and Yaroshuk-Tews improved to 40-16 in NCAA matches with the victory over UCF.
Additionally, the win, which gave Miami at least 18 victories for the 13th time in 15 years, was the team’s fifth of the season over a top-25 opponent and the first in non-conference play. The triumph also gave Miami a final home record of 8-1, marking the 10th time in Yaroshuk-Tews’ tenure it has logged fewer than two losses at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in a season.
This was the fourth time in 2018 the Hurricanes dropped the doubles point and came back to win, joining road decisions at then-No. 31 Clemson on March 4, then-No. 19 Wake Forest on March 31 and Louisville on April 20. All of them were 4-3 except the one against the Cardinals, which was 5-2.
“We said going into singles that we needed to stay calm. We needed to try to flip the scoreboard early in singles,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of the team’s resiliency. “We felt pretty confident and one and two, and actually I felt pretty confident at five and six going into the match. I wasn’t unhappy with the tennis at three and four the entire time, but you don’t always get the points where you expect them. To be able to get them where I expected them today was huge.”
Up next for the Hurricanes, who are back in the Sweet 16 following a one-year hiatus, is a matchup with second-ranked and top-seeded Vanderbilt Thursday at 4 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C.
1. No. 61 Ksenia Kuznetsova/Maria Martinez (UCF) def. No. 68 Estela Perez-Somarriba/Daniella Roldan (UM), 6-3
2. Silvia Bordes/Rebeka Stolmar (UCF) def. Sinead Lohan/Ana Madcur (UM), 6-4
3. Dominika Paterova/Ulyana Shirokova (UM) def. Monica Matias/Natalia Serrano (UCF), 6-2
1. No. 3 Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. Maria Martinez (UCF), 6-1, 6-3
2. No. 69 Sinead Lohan (UM) def. Ksenia Kuznetsova (UCF), 6-2, 6-4
3. Rebeka Stolmar (UCF) def. Daniella Roldan (UM), 7-5, 6-2
4. Monica Matias (UCF) def. Ana Madcur (UM), 6-2, 6-1
5. Ulyana Shirokova (UM) def. Natalia Serrano (UCF), 6-3, 6-2
6. Dominika Paterova (UM) def. Emilia Granstrom (UCF), 6-2, 6-3