URBANA, Ill. -For the fifth consecutive season, the University of Miami women’s tennis team will be playing in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals after its 4-3 win over Northwestern Friday night at Illinois’ Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
With the score tied at three games apiece, Miami
junior Melissa Bolivar was competing in a third set match with the Wildcats’ Nida Hamilton. The final set was tied 4-4, before the Barranquilla, Colombia native closed out her opponent by winning the final two games.
“I didn’t feel comfortable throughout the match,” said Bolivar. “I just fought through it. You have to win, even though you’re not playing your best. That’s a quality we have; we fight through it regardless of our level of tennis that day. I think that’s what I did. It was a team effort, and we pulled through.”
After claiming the doubles point, Miami (23-5) would get quick singles wins from its top two positions to push its lead to 3-0. Stephanie Wagner, the ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year and 60th-ranked player in the nation, raced to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Veronica Corning on Court 1. Kelsey Laurente, ranked 81st, upset No. 57 Kate Turvy, 6-1, 6-3 on Court 2.
However, Northwestern (20-9) would get back into the match and then some, claiming three straight victories on Courts 4, 5 and 3, respectively, setting up the dramatic finish on Court 6.
“Northwestern is a great team,” said the ITA Southeast Region Head Coach of the Year Paige Yaroshuk-Tews. “[Northwestern] always give us a struggle. They seem to always pick on our weaknesses well. We responded well today in some positions. We didn’t respond so well in other positions, but it was a great college tennis match.”
In a reversal from their matchup at the ITA National Indoors in February, the Hurricanes dominated Northwestern in doubles on Friday. Miami earned victories from both the Nos. 1 and 3 positions in clinching the early point.
Albuquerque and Riobueno, jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the nation’s 14th-ranked doubles team of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton. The Hurricane duo would go on to win the match, 8-1, defeating the highest-ranked opponents they have faced on the season.
At the No. 3 doubles position, the Canes
’ tandem of Brittany Dubins and Wagner were equally as impressive as their teammates on Court 1, as they also cruised to an 8-1 victory. Wagner and Dubins moved to a perfect 6-0 on the season as doubles partners.
The win sends Miami to the Elite Eight for the fifth straight season, a feat that no other women’s tennis team has achieved. The Canes have an off day on Saturday before facing No. 3 Texas A&M at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday.
1. #60 Stephanie Wagner (MIA) def. Veronica Corning (NU) 6-1, 6-2
2. #81 Kelsey Laurente (MIA) def. #57 Kate Turvy (NU) 6-1, 6-3
3. Belinda Niu (NU) def. #105 Lina Lilekite (MIA) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
4. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) def. #102 Clementina Riobueno (MIA) 6-0, 6-4
5. Alicia Barnett (NU) def. Monique Albuquerque (MIA) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
6. Melissa Bolivar (MIA) def. Nida Hamilton (NU) 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-4
1. Albuquerque/Riobueno (MIA) def. #14 Mushrefova/Hamilton (NU) 8-1
2. Bolivar/Laurente (MIA) vs. Corning/Barnett (NU) 6-3*
3. Wagner/Dubins (MIA) def. Turvy/Niu (NU) 8-1
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (1,2,4,5,3,6)
* = unfinished