Miami crushes Pitt tennis, 6-1

By Ryan Reichardt / Staff Writer

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The No. 12 University of Miami women’s tennis team showed Pitt women’s tennis this weekend how it earned that ranking.

Pitt (7-5, 1-5 ACC), which has bounced between a 75 ranking and no ranking, fell to Miami (9-5, 4-2 ACC), 6-1 overall at home on Sunday. Miami won all except one singles match and one doubles match.

This was the Panthers’ second gruesome defeat — they lost 5-2 against No. 8 Duke on Friday. Head coach Alex Santos was trying to convert failure into learned lessons Sunday afternoon.

“We have short-term memory and play one point at a time,”  Santos said. “We should be more confident, and have more energy, and keep pushing.”

Many of Sunday’s points came after rigorous, hard-fought volleys.

The battle was particularly arduous for No. 123 junior Audrey Ann Blakely, who played as both the No. 1 seed in singles and as a part of the No. 1 seed doubles for Pitt.

During one volley, Blakely was forced to sprint from the back of her side of the court up to the front to return a short drop shot, and then hammer back her opponent’s return with a spike to win the match.

In several other volleys, Blakely would be standing at the backline repeatedly slamming back hits that whizzed 6 inches over the top of the net, only to have them come flying back at her over and over again.

These intense back and forths added a lot of time to the clock. Many of Blakely’s games went to deuce with long volleys — arduous matches that can exhaust even the best players.

As Blakely said, “The clock can’t run out in tennis.”

“As a team, the longer matches are where we thrive,” Blakely said. “We definitely took them to the limit on a lot of points.”

Both of Blakely’s matches ended in defeat — she nearly overcame a three-game deficit in the second set of her singles match, only to lose to Miami’s No. 1 seed, Stephanie Wagner. After the loss, Blakely overall is 18-13 on the season.

“You’re sometimes down, but you’re never down and out,” Blakely said. “There’s always another game to play.”

Pitt’s No. 2 seed doubles pair were the only doubles to come out victorious, with both the No. 1 seed and the No. 3 seeds falling to Miami.

Winning duo, sophomore Callie Frey and freshman Carina Ma, defeated Miami’s sophomore Sinead Lohan and freshman Clara Tanielian. The final match tally ended with Pitt winning six games to four.

Ma and Frey were not as lucky in singles. Ma lost to Lohan, who won 6-1 in the first set and 6-3 in the second. Sophomore Wendy Zhang defeated Frey 6-2 in the first and 6-0 in the second.

Redshirt junior Amber Washington was the only Panther to win a singles match, continuing her current five-match win streak. In her last 10 matches, she is 9-1.

Washington won her first set 6-2 and her second set 6-3. She started off her first set with a five-game win streak.

After taking a big lead in her first set, Washington focused on keeping a level head. She couldn’t allow her opponent, Miami’s Clementina Riobueno, a chance at revenge.

“I always think that she could come back,” Washington said. “I always tell myself that it’s going to get harder.”

Her second set was much closer. Compared to the five-game lead Washington held in the beginning of the first set, at one point in the second set her lead dwindled down to only a game at one point before she finished off Riobueno with her sixth win.

“I tend to settle down in the second set,” Washington said. “I just have to keep pushing harder.”

Washington said the defeat in her doubles match earlier in the day, when she and partner Natsumi Okamoto fell 8-6 in a tie breaker, motivated the rest of her successful play.

“I carried that momentum into singles,” Washington said, adding that her fellow Panthers shouldn’t get carried away emotionally going forward. “The high can’t be too high, low can’t be too low.”

Pitt women’s tennis will have a chance to put its two most recent losses behind the team as it faces Wake Forest in North Carolina at 12 p.m. March 25.

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