University of Miami women’s tennis team advances to regional final.
UM defeated North Florida and will face Utah in the regional final. The winner of that match makes it to the NCAA Round of 16.
The University of Miami women’s tennis team took one big step forward Friday — and it certainly wasn’t a foot fault — in the NCAA regional at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on the UM campus.
The Canes defeated in-state opponent North Florida 4-0 to move into Saturday’s 1 p.m. regional final against Utah, which upset Texas Tech 4-3. The winner of Saturday’s match between UM (19-4) and Utah (12-10) will advance to the NCAA Round of 16 next week in Athens, Ga.
UM’s No. 1 player, Anna Bartenstein, had a tougher time than expected. She lost her first set to North Florida’s Aline Berkenbrock 6-2, but that bad first set brought out the grit in Bartenstein.
“Yes, I was mad at myself,” Bartenstein said. “I think I should have started right from the beginning. I was a little stressed out, and I wasn’t playing my game.”
In the second set, she turned things around, winning 6-2 and was awaiting the third set when UM’s Melissa Bolivar clinched the match for the Hurricanes with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-0 triumph over Simona Weymar in No. 4 singles.
Bolivar’s clinching match gave the Canes a 4-0 victory and the rest of the matches, including Bartenstein’s, did not have to be completed.
Bartenstein and fellow senior Gabriela Mejia have been the key to UM’s success this season.
“They won’t tell you this,” UM coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said of Bartenstein and Mejia, “but they bear the weight of this team on their shoulders.”
Friday was particularly trying for both of them. They graduated in the morning and then almost immediately had to ditch the cap and gown for tennis shorts.
“They’ve got finals, senior pictures, they have family coming from all over the world, they’re walking [for their degrees] at 8:30 a.m. in the morning and they know they have to go out here and compete, and not just compete, but to go out and compete in the top two positions for this team and pull in Ws,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “We haven’t been in a real competitive situation in three weeks. All in all, I think they did a great job.”
Freshman Liat Zimmerman also contributed to the UM victory with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over North Florida’s Marina Cunningham.
Bartenstein accepted her diploma for marketing and will stay in school in order to get her MBA.
Mejia was handed her degree in international finance and marketing and, moments later, was teaching North Florida’s Lorna Aviles how to manipulate numbers with a 6-1, 6-0 victory.
Yaroshuk-Tews is proud of Bartenstein and Mejia walking away with their diplomas but also was nostalgic.
“It’s always tough when you know your time with the seniors is coming to an end,” she said.