Miami Pounces Clemson, 4-3
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – For the third consecutive season, the University of Miami men’s tennis team has made it through opening weekend of the Atlantic Coast Conference season boasting an unblemished 2-0 mark.
Two days removed from topping Georgia Tech, 6-1, at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, the Hurricanes once again defended their home court, edging past the Clemson Tigers, 4-3, Sunday afternoon.
Overall, the Hurricanes (3-2, 2-0 ACC) have extended their streak conference win streak to five matches, last dropping an ACC affair on April 19, 2019 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championships against NC State.
“Whenever we have team or individual meetings, we always talk about how tough the ACC is,” junior Franco Aubone said. “Every match we play; we know it is going to be a battle because there is no such thing as an easy match in the ACC. So, all of us have to show up every single time and I think today was a clear example of that. Even though last year we might have beat Clemson 7-0 on the road, this year it was 4-3. New players are coming and going, it’s a new year, different teams, so you never know what to expect and we understand every match is going to be tough to win. The ACC is one of the best conferences and we just have to keep it going.”
Opening things up in doubles, the Tigers (5-4, 1-1 ACC) got off to a fast start, as Ryuhei Azuma and Spencer Whitakerr defeated Stefan Milicevic and Adria Soriano Barrera, 6-1.
Meanwhile, the nation’s 22nd-ranked doubles pair, Aubone and Benjamin Hannestad, overcame a 2-3 deficit to top Teodor Giusca and Yizhou Liu, 6-3.
With all eyes turning to court 3, Bojan Jankulovski and Stephen Madonia found themselves in both 4-5 and 5-6 holes, before rallying to force a tiebreaker.
In the deciding tiebreaker, the duo once again found themselves trailing Carlos Kelaidis and Andrew Puscas, 1-3, before winning the final six points and claiming the advantageous doubles point, 7-6 (7-3).
In singles, Miami quickly doubled its lead after Jankulovski steam rolled Azuma, 6-3, 6-2.
However, the Tigers cut their deficit in half when Giusca earned a hard-fought victory over Hannestad, 7-5, 6-4.
Miami once again extended its lead after No. 34 Soriano Barrera out dueled Liu at the top singles position, 6-3, 7-5.
In the final straight-set match to conclude, Clemson’s Kelaidis kept his team in the match with a 6-1, 6-3 win over No. 64 Milicevic.
The moment the Tigers pulled within a point, 3-2, Aubone and Puscas were tied at 4-6, 6-4, 2-2, while Whitakerr held a slight advantage over Oren Vasser, 4-6, 7-5, 2-0.
With both matches coming down to the wire, Vasser’s was the first to conclude, as the junior’s late rally came up short, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
With all eyes turning to court 5, Aubone outlasted Puscas, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, to clinch the 4-3 team victory.
With the win, the San Juan, Argentina, native improved to 5-0 in singles action, at the start of the 2021 campaign.
“I am really happy,” Aubone said immediately following the match. “That game was certainly tough. We knew that they were going to come here and fight and we knew they had just beaten Florida State two days ago.
“The doubles point today was very important. It came down to court No. 3, where Boki and Stephen played amazing in the tiebreaker. And then in singles, you are playing and watching the scores, and all of the sudden you realize guys are coming over to you,” Aubone continued. “I tried to enjoy it as much as I could and remain calm. Of course, you get nervous, but your team is there rallying behind you and trying to lift you up every single point. So, I just tried to enjoy every single point and I think in the end it was the team who helped free the nerves from my hands, my legs and allowed me to play my best at the end.”
Up next, the Hurricanes will welcome FGCU to the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We are going to try and do the same thing,” Aubone said on the upcoming matchup with the Eagles. “We always want to defend our home court and make it extremely tough for our opponent. We take pride in our home record. Unfortunately, this year, we got beat by UCF to open the year, but we are starting to get back to our level of play at home and we just have to come out here and defend it. And from there, continue to build, bring the energy and work hard for every result.”