Miami’s season ends in Sweet 16 against eighth-ranked Pepperdine

Fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong serves against Pepperdine on May 13. at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu, Calif. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

A season that saw Miami women’s tennis reach its highest ranking since 2016 (No. 6) came to an end Friday afternoon in Malibu, Calif., where the ninth-ranked Canes fell to No. 8 Pepperdine, 4-0, in their first-ever road match in the NCAA Team Championship Sweet Sixteen. It marked the first time UM (19-6, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) was swept all season.

“Look, Pepperdine played a great match today. They’re led by two star players at one and two. The bottom line is, I just think they were better than us,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “They played better than us; the level was a little higher than where we are right now. It’s a tough one to swallow when that’s the last one of the season, but that’s typically how they end unless you’re going to win a title.”

Pepperdine (23-6, 7-0 WCC), the runner-up of last year’s NCAA Team Championship, dominated in doubles, quickly securing its first point of the match.

In a ranked match-up, No. 42 Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen crushed Miami’s No. 76-ranked duo of third-year sophomore Maya Tahan and freshman Tatyana Nikolenko, 6-2. The Waves then sealed the doubles point on Court 3, as Shiori Fukuda and Taisiya Pachkaleva blazed past sophomores Audrey Boch-Collins and Isabella Pfennig, 6-3.

The last match was left unfinished, with No. 45 Victoria Flores and Lisa Zaar leading fifth-year senior Eden Richardson and fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong, together ranked No. 13, 5-4.

In singles, Pepperdine’s six-ranked players proved too much for the Canes.

No. 85 Broadus extended the Waves’ lead to two by snapping Boch-Collins’ nine-game winning streak. She won by a convincing 6-1, 6-0, margin.

Next, No. 15 Fukudu, the WCC Player of the Year, dismantled No. 33 Achong, 6-1, 6-1, to put Pepperdine up 3-0. No. 40 Pachkaleva clinched the Waves’ spot in the Elite Eight with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-0, victory over Tahan.

All remaining matches were suspended, with Pepperdine leading in all of them.

Despite the loss, the Hurricanes have much to be proud of this season, as they hosted their first regional and made their first Sweet Sixteen since 2018. Miami will also likely finish in the top ten for the first time since 2016.

“I think we had an unbelievable season. We definitely took steps forward. We’re going to end, I think, top-10 in the country. Hosting NCAAs [again was great],” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “The season we had, I thought, was exceptional. I think we squeezed everything out of these kids. I think they improved as the season went on. We had a little bit of adversity; we were able to bounce back from it.”

With everyone slated to return except Eden Richardson, the future looks bright. However, the season isn’t over just yet.

No. 33 Achong and No. 37 Richardson still have more tennis to play, as they will participate in the NCAA Singles Championship and compete together in the NCAA Doubles Championships. The tournaments take place on May 23-28 at Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill.

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