In a valiant, but ultimately heartbreaking display of grit, the seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes fought back from an 0-3 deficit Thursday night to win the next three singles matches — then lost 11 of the final 12 games at the No. 1 spot to fall to 10th-ranked Michigan in the Round of 16 at the NCAA Division I women’s tennis tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Michigan, coached by former Miami tennis great and UM Sports Hall of Famer Ronni Reis Bernstein, defeated Miami 4-3 to advance to a quarterfinal against No. 15 Stanford, which upset top-ranked/No. 2 seed Florida 4-3 earlier Thursday.
For Miami, the season came down to the woman it would want left as the last Hurricane standing: ninth-ranked Stephanie Wagner, the Hurricanes’ all-time singles victories record-holder. But despite Wagner winning the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-3) and getting a commanding 4-1 second-set lead, feisty, fist-pumping Ronit Yurovsky, ranked 15th, won the next five games to win the second set 6-4 and force the deciding set.
The closest Wagner would get in the third set was 1-1, before Yurovsky won the final five games.
“Steffi is pretty upset,” Miami coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, also in the UM Sports Hall of Fame, said.
“They all are. But if you’ve got to put it on somebody’s court, Stephanie Wagner’s court is the one. She had a lot of momentum, up 4-1 and cruising in the second set. Ronit played two good games to make it 4-3. At that point, anything could happen.
“At the end, Steffi wasn’t winning the long points and was giving a few too many attackable balls. Ronit was stepping up and ripping. She’s had an unbelievable career at Michigan, she’s a classy kid and you can’t take anything away from her.’’
The loss marked the third year in a row that UM’s women fell in the Sweet 16. Miami ended its season at 21-6, while Michigan rose to 23-6.
The match began outdoors at 1 p.m. but lasted more than seven hours because of rain that halted play for 80 minutes, just when UM had turned a 2-5 deficit to 4-5 in the deciding No. 3 doubles match. The Wolverines and Hurricanes returned outdoors after the initial delay, and Michigan won the set 6-4 and with it the doubles point. Michigan has now won all 19 matches in which it started by winning the doubles point.
Officials were forced to move the match indoors for singles play when it begain raining again, and the Hurricanes had to wait for the Gators to finish their matches before the Canes could take over the courts.
In NCAA tennis, the first team to four points wins, with two of three doubles victories good for one point.
UM’s victorious singles players Thursday were eighth-ranked Sinead Lohan over No. 19 Brienne Minor 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 2 spot; No. 4 Silvia Fuentes over Mira Ruder-Hook 6-3, 1-6, 6-2; and No. 6 Ana Madcur over Teona Velehorschi 6-4, 6-4.
Wagner and Lohan will stay in Tulsa to begin play Wednesday in the singles draw of the NCAA individual championships.