For the first time since 2009, the University of Miami women’s tennis team will be competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship final after upsetting top-seeded and second-ranked North Carolina 4-3 in the semifinals at the Cary (N.C.) Tennis Center on Saturday.
“We played with such heart,” UM coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “UNC pushes you to a different level physically and today we responded. Our girls never quit. They believed for 4 1/2 hours.”
Miami will play Florida State at 11 a.m. Sunday for the title.
Freshman Kelsey Laurente, Miami’s 91st-ranked singles player, broke a 3-3 tie and sealed the gritty win for the Canes at No. 2 with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over the Tar Heels’ 44th-ranked Zoe De Bruycker. The match was the last of three three-set singles bouts on the day.
It was the fourth three-set win of the year for Laurente and her third over a ranked opponent.
“This win was earned the hard way … Miami style,” Yaroshuk-Tews said.
After the Canes earned the doubles point, the Tar Heels evened the score as Tessa Lyons took a 6-2, 6-2 win from Melissa Bolivar, snapping the junior’s singles win streak at 10.
The teams would continue the back-and-forth battle, as on Court 4, Miami freshman Clementina Riobueno gave her team a 2-1 lead, dismantling UNC’s 56th-ranked Caroline Price 6-4, 6-4. The Barquisimeto, Venezuela, native improved her singles record to 22-3 in the spring. The 22 wins is a team high.
UNC pulled even once again at 2-2 after Lauren McHale’s 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 5 over Monique Albuquerque. Then, sophomore Lina Lileikite pulled off another upset, defeating 36th-ranked Whitney Kay 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
At No. 1, seventh-ranked Gina Suarez-Malaguti won in three sets over UM’s 60th-ranked freshman, Stephanie Wagner, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. In the end, it would only further set up Laurente’s dramatic finish on Court 2.
• Lynn University’s women’s tennis team avenged the program’s only loss to Rollins by ending the Tars’ season with a 5-2 victory in the opening round of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament in Miami Shores. Ioana Ivan and Val Confalonieri claimed points in both doubles and singles while Aleks Vukadinovic took home the winning points that gave men’s and women’s coach Mike Perez his 900th career victory. Lynn improves to 16-5 overall.
Track and field
Nova Southeastern’s 400 relay women’s team of Jessica Osteen, Johniqua Stafford, Nicole Poole and Ciona Williams finished fifth with a season-best time of 47.17 seconds at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.
The women’s 1,600 team of Osteen, Monica Sapp, Williams and Quannisha Allen were seventh with a season-best time of 3:48.74.