MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Akemi Maehama has been telling everyone about this match for a while now.
“I know it’s going to be an exciting match to watch, to play,” said Maehama, a junior women’s tennis player from Tokyo, Japan.
No. 4 Barry University (17-0) hosts No. 1 Armstrong Atlantic (14-0) in a big-stakes women’s tennis match 10 a.m. Friday at Buccaneer Tennis Center. The Pirates beat the Bucs, 5-2, in last year’s NCAA semifinals in Louisville on their way to the NCAA championship.
Armstrong Atlantic’s last loss was a 5-3 setback to Barry in the NCAA semifinals on May 13, 2011 in Altamonte Springs, Fla. The Buccaneers beat the Pirates, 6-3, in the regular season earlier that year in Miami Shores.
But this year is a different season, and Armstrong is riding a 43-match winning streak, dating back to the 2011 NCAA semifinals.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” said Maehama, who was a freshman when the Bucs handed the Pirates their last loss. “Since we have so many new girls, we know we have to be ready for anything that’s to come.”
The Bucs and Pirates both beat No. 3 Abilene Christian earlier this season, giving each team a common thread to the paths that are about to cross Friday morning. Barry is 43-4 in doubles play this season. Armstrong is 38-4. The Pirates are 79-5 in singles matches for a .940 winning percentage. The Buccaneers are 75-12 for an .862 percentage.
Game on. Match on.
“I don’t really look at records or scores. I just want to beat them,” Maehama said. “We have a really, really strong team. I have so much faith in our doubles. This team, we are really solid. That helps a lot to know that we have really strong doubles. Also singles, we are pretty strong, too.
“We are really pumped on the court, no matter who we play. The attitude is always really good. We just need to bring it. If we give our all, we’re going to do just fine.”
NET NOTE: Be sure to watch NBC-6's Sports Final 11:30 p.m. Sunday night as sports reporter Courtney Fallon will air a piece on longtime Barry tennis coach George Samuel's career achievements. Samuel won his milestone 400th career victory with the men's program against NAIA No. 1 Embry-Riddle earlier this season.