No. 9 Miami Blanks No. 24 Illinois 7-0
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - No. 9 Miami cruised to a convincing win over No. 24 Illinois at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, blanking the visiting Fighting Illini by a final score of 7-0.
The Hurricanes started the day in dominant fashion, capturing the doubles point with strong victories in the top two positions.
Sophomore Lina Lileikite and freshman Stephanie Wagner combined to blank the Illinois tandem of Julia Jamieson and Allison Falkin at No. 2 doubles (8-0) to open the competition.
Equally as impressive was the teamwork of junior Melissa Bolivar and freshman Clementina Riobueno, who took down the No. 11-ranked doubles team in the nation, Rachael White and Melissa Kapinski, by a final mark of 8-2.
"We're trying to set a precedent this year and really become dominant with our doubles point," head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. "I think the teams are clicking well. We did everything we needed to do on the doubles courts today."
Freshman Kelsey Laurente and Brittany Dubins were also in strong position at No. 3 when the first doubles team clinched the point for the hosts.
"I think we came out pretty loose," Yaroshuk-Tews continued. "I'm even more happy with the way they played than with the point itself."
Early on in competition, the youngsters in the Hurricanes' lineup looked far from out of place in their home opener.
"When you're playing a team ranked No. 24 in the nation with four of your six spots occupied by freshmen, it's a little nervewracking from a coaching perspective," Yaroshuk-Tews said. "But only that they don't necessarily know what to expect."
Laurente, ranked No. 51 in the nation, gave Miami a 2-0 advantage with a win over senior Rachael White at No. 3 singles (6-2, 6-2).
Miami took a 3-0 advantage with a commanding win at No. 1 singles, as No. 57 Lileikite cruised past No. 59-ranked Falkin (6-3, 6-2).
Bolivar, facing stiff competition at No. 2 singles in No. 106 Kapinski, clinched the match for the Hurricanes with another big victory (6-3, 7-5).
"The process with this group is going to be really fun," Yaroshuk-Tews said. "They're growing, they're maturing, they're getting better every day."
On the back end of the singles order, No. 92 Wagner, Riobueno and Deborah Suarez all earned victories to complete Miami's clean sweep.
Suarez took a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Audrey O'Connor at No. 6 singles, Wagner fought her way to a 7-6, 6-2 win at No. 4, and Riobueno came back after losing the first set to win a 10-point tiebreaker.
"I always say that freshmen returning in January are no longer freshmen," Yaroshuk-Tews said. "I think they're doing a great job acting as upperclassmen even though they're not."
Despite moving to a perfect 2-0 on the season, Coach Yaroshuk-Tews said her team will continue to focus on the importance of taking the season one step at a time.
"This group is going to be together for two years," she said. "From a coach's perspective, and from a player's perspective, we're really embracing that fact. We're going to develop, and every day is a new learning experience."
The Hurricanes will return to the Neil Schiff Tennis Center when they host the Miami Spring Invite beginning Fri., Jan. 18.
Order of Finish:
Doubles: #2 (Lileikite/Wagner), #1 (Bolivar/Riobueno)
Singles: #3 (Laurente), #1 (Lileikite), #2 (Bolivar), #6 (Suarez), #4 (Wagner), #5 (Riobueno)