Fortunately for the University of Miami women’s tennis team, it had a day off Saturday to recuperate from its opening-match victory late Friday in the Round of 16 at the NCAA tournament in Urbana, Ill.
The sixth-ranked Hurricanes defeated No. 11 Northwestern 4-3 in a match that didn’t end until close to 1 a.m. EDT Saturday.
The Canes advanced to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive season and will meet No. 3 Texas A&M at 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
Texas A&M opened the Round of 16 by defeating No. 14 seed Virginia 5-0.
If UM beats Texas A&M in the Elite Eight round, it would play in the national semifinals on Monday. If UM, in turn, won that match, it would advance to the national championship round Tuesday.
The Hurricanes finished as the national runner-up in 2006 but have never won a national title.
On Friday, junior Melissa Bolivar clinched the victory at the No. 6 spot by winning her final two games. She beat Nida Hamilton 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-4.
Also winning for UM were Stephanie Wagner at the No. 1 spot and Kelsey Laurente at the No. 2 spot, as well as the crucial doubles victories by Monique Albuquerque-Clementina Riobueno and Wagner-Brittany Dubins.
“I didn’t feel comfortable throughout the match,” Bolivar said. “I just fought through it. You have to win, even though you’re not playing your best. That’s a quality we have.”
UM coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews acknowledged the struggle but said the day yielded a “great college tennis match.
“Northwestern is a great team” that “always gives us a struggle,” Yaroshuk-Tews said.
“They seem to always pick on our weaknesses. We responded well in some positions. We didn’t respond so well in other positions.”
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN