CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -The ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships is the most prestigious indoor collegiate tournament in the nation and it brings the Top 16 Division I teams together.
The past three days have shown just how good the Hurricanes (6-2) are and even more importantly, how good they are going to be moving forward.
Even though they dropped their last two contests in dramatic fashion to the top-seed UCLA Bruins and No. 14 Northwestern, the 10th-ranked Hurricanes have plenty to look forward to.
“Every team in this event is a great team and Northwestern showed that today,” said Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews. “I believe what we experienced the last three days will truly help us improve when we get back to Miami.”
On Sunday, the Canes fell to Northwestern by a 4-2 score, the same result as the UCLA match a day earlier.
Why will consecutive gut-wrenching losses help the Canes? The answer is in the lineup. Five of Miami’s six singles players on Sunday were freshmen.
FIVE FRESHMEN on a Top 10 team is unheard of.
“Having freshmen out there today holding their own says a lot about the future of this program,” said Yaroshuk-Tews.
One of the freshmen, Clementina Riobueno, improved to 8-0 on the season in dual matches with her 6-3, 6-4 win over Northwestern’s Linda Abu Mushrefova on Sunday.
Stephanie Wagner, out of Amberg, Germany, has already cracked the Top 100 in the rankings and showed her grit this weekend. On Sunday, she took down the Wildcats’ Brittany Wowchuck, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5).
Though she didn’t come away with a win on Sunday, Kelsey Laurente has already shown what she can do as Miami’s highest-ranked singles player (No. 51). Her season record now stands at 6-1 in dual matches and her record against fellow ranked opponents is 2-0.
Deborah Suarez wasn’t in the lineup for Friday’s win against No. 17 Nebraska or against UCLA, but she was inserted on Sunday at the No. 6 position and was leading in the third set, 4-1 before play was suspended. The Weston, Fla., native has yet to lose a dual match this season.
“I am really happy with how Deborah stepped in and battled,” said Yaroshuk-Tews. “She was dying to get in the lineup and I love that in a person. She showed how tough she is.”
After dealing UCLA its first doubles loss of the season on Friday, Miami dropped that point against Northwestern.
“Doubles has been too inconsistent. We need to work on finding a balance out there,” added Yaroshuk-Tews.
Miami will have a couple weeks before its next match, but it begins the next stage of the season. Florida State will come to Neil Schiff Tennis Center on Saturday, Feb. 23 for UM’s conference opener.
Until then, the Hurricanes will work on the things they learned playing with the nation’s elite.
“Weaknesses were exposed, but strengths were also shown,” said Yaroshuk-Tews. If we improve both, we can have a special season.”
1. #67 Kate Turvy (NU) def. Monique Albuquerque (UM) 6-4, 6-2
2. Veronica Corning (NU) def. #57 Lina Lileikite (UM) 6-3, 6-4
3. Belinda Niu (NU) def. #51 Kelsey Laurente (UM) 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5)
4. #92 Stephanie Wagner (UM) def. Brittany Wowchuk (NU) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
5. Clementina Riobueno (UM) def. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) 6-3, 6-4
6. Deborah Suarez (UM) vs. Alicia Barnett (NU) 6-3, 3-6, 4-1, unfinished
1. #42 Linda Abu Mushrefova/Nida Hamilton (NU) def. Lina Lileikite/Stephanie Wagner (UM) 8-2
2. Veronica Corning/Alicia Barnett (NU) def. Melissa Bolivar/Kelsey Laurente (UM) 8-3
3. Monique Albuquerque/Clementina Riobueno (UM) vs. Kate Turvy/Belinda Niu (NU) 6-4, unfinished
Order of Finish
Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,2,5,4,3)