W. Tennis Drops 4-3 NCAA Heartbreaker at No. 15 Oklahoma State
By Alex Schwartz
STILLWATER, Okla. – The University of Miami women’s tennis team’s comeback bid against No. 15 Oklahoma State fell one point shy Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Team Championship Round of 32.
No. 19 Miami (19-8, 9-5 ACC) dropped the first two points of the day to the tournament’s No. 15-seed before tying the score at both 2-2 and 3-3, but the Cowgirls protected home court at the Greenwood Tennis Center.
“Credit to Oklahoma State. They played a great tennis match,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I couldn’t really be any prouder of this group. Where we were in January compared to where we are now is just the reason I get up every single day and it’s the reason I’ve been doing this for so many years. We’re building people, we’re building character and we’re building athletes.”
Despite Oklahoma State (21-7, 8-1 B12) taking a 5-3 lead on each court, the tightly-contested doubles point took one hour and two minutes to decide behind stellar responses from the Hurricanes.
After pulling within a game in a top-35 matchup, Miami’s No. 13-ranked duo of freshman Daevenia Achong and senior Daniella Roldan dropped a 4-6 decision to No. 31 Sofia Blanco and Catherine Gulihur.
Junior Estela Perez-Somarriba and sophomore Ulyana Shirokova took each of the final four games against Marina Guinart and Katarina Stresnakova, including staving off a pair of match points, to log a 7-5 win and level the doubles tally. The contest featured nine breaks, eight of which came at deciding point.
Junior Yuna Ito and freshman Lucia Marzal came back from not just a 3-5 hole, but also a 5-6 deficit to force a tiebreaker. They won back-to-back points after the changeover to pull even at 4-4, but Tamara Arnold and Bunyawi Thamchaiwat took the last three points for a 7-6 (7-4) victory, giving the Cowgirls the doubles point.
“It came down to a few points in doubles and they were just better than us in the big moments there. I think it was tough, we were always playing from behind,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “To turn two of those matches [in singles] isn’t an easy thing to do. The doubles point is big, but I think we still came out into singles thinking we had a shot to win the match.”
No. 94 Thamchaiwat quickly doubled the Cowgirls’ lead by registering a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Roldan.
For the second day in a row, Achong trimmed Miami’s deficit to 2-1, this time by tallying a 6-3, 6-1 decision versus Lisa Marie Rioux.
Top-ranked Perez-Somarriba then evened the score at 2-2 for the second straight day, as she improved to 9-1 against top-25 foes in 2018-19 by defeating No. 25 Stresnakova, 6-3, 6-1.
The Madrid native took nine of the final 10 games to avenge her defeat in the fall and has now defeated four of the five players she has lost to in 2018-19. The win was also the 110th of Perez-Somarriba’s career, placing her in a tie for fifth-most all-time at Miami.
Blanco put the Cowgirls back in front with a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Shirokova after rallying from a 2-4 disadvantage in both sets.
Shortly thereafter, Marzal recorded a 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 win over Gulihur to knot the score once again, this time at 3-3.
As they did in doubles, all eyes again turned to Court 3, where Ito faced a 4-6, 3-5 deficit against No. 96 Guinart. After taking a 3-0 lead in the second set and then dropping five games in a row, the Kanagawa, Japan, native took back-to-back games, including fighting off an overall match point, to pull even at 5-5.
The Cowgirl senior, however, in the final home match of her collegiate career, took each of the last two games to log a 6-4, 7-5 decision and clinch the 4-3 result for Oklahoma State.
“We came up short at some positions today and that’s not what they wanted to have happen,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “That’s not what I wanted to have happen. But their fight, commitment, togetherness and the way they just stayed in there and battled when it didn’t look good, it got us down to the wire. There was a point where that match could’ve gone either way, just on pure grit and pure heart. It didn’t go our way and it’s not fun, but it’s sports.”
Miami fell just one point short of its 13th trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in the last 14 years. It marked just the fifth time in the 64-team era (1999-present) the Hurricanes dropped a 4-3 decision in NCAA play, including the first since 2016 against No. 10 Michigan in the Sweet 16.
The Hurricanes are now 54-34 all-time in NCAA Team Championship play, including 41-18 in Yaroshuk-Tews’ 18 years as head coach. Miami is now 2-6 on the road in NCAA play and 4-4 in the state of Oklahoma.
“I think the future is going to be very bright for us,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I think that we’ve got some kids coming back that showed up in some very, very big moments deep in the season. So, we’ve got to look at what the future hold and move on.”
Miami is set to finish in the Oracle/ITA top 25 for the 17th consecutive season and logged 17-plus wins for the 16th time during that stretch.
1. No. 31 Sofia Blanco/Catherine Gulihur (OKST) def. No. 13 Daevenia Achong/Daniella Roldan (UM), 6-4
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba/Ulyana Shirokova (UM) def. Marina Guinart/Katarina Stresnakova (OKST), 7-5
3. Tamara Arnold/Bunyawi Thamchaiwat (OKST) def. Yuna Ito/Lucia Marzal (UM), 7-6 (7-4)
1. No. 1 Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. No. 25 Katarina Stresnakova (OKST), 6-3, 6-1
2. Daevenia Achong (UM) def. Lisa Marie Rioux (OKST), 6-3, 6-1
3. No. 96 Marina Guinart (OKST) def. Yuna Ito (UM), 6-4, 7-5
4. No. 94 Bunyawi Thamchaiwat (OKST) def. Daniella Roldan (UM), 6-0, 6-0
5. Sofia Blanco (OKST) def. Ulyana Shirokova (UM), 6-4, 7-5
6. Lucia Marzal (UM) def. Catherine Gulihur (OKST), 7-6 (7-1), 6-2