Blonde and beautiful with an incredible backhand: you’d think this girl would let it all go to her head. That’s definitely not the case for the Melissa Applebaum, a sophomore on the women’s tennis team.
The high school all-star from Coral Gables is all about heart and considers herself the most humble of creatures. One could wonder if she underestimates the magnitude of all that she has accomplished and all the great things that lie ahead.
Being the No.1 high school player in the state of Florida, and No.11 in the nation, Applebaum began her journey with the University of Miami as a freshman.
“She is a ‘Cane, she is a ‘Cane through and through, she loves UM,” Ray Applebaum, her father, said. “She had the chance to go anywhere in the country, she had scholarships anywhere she wanted to go, and this is where she ended up going. And that’s very unusual for somebody that lives in the same town.”
Applebaum finished her freshman season with a 21-10 singles record and a .667 winning percentage.
Applebaum lives and breathes the sport she plays. In her last match versus South Alabama, Applebaum proved that she is a formidable competitor. Coming away with a win after a defeat against the University of Alabama, Applebaum said that she needed to prove that she is a fighter and that a defeat could not break her spirit.
“This match was pure heart; this was just me proving to myself that when I am down and not playing my best tennis I can still hold out,” Applebaum said. “I had been working so hard for a week and a half to get over my loss; it was a tough loss for me and I came back this time. I was ready, I was ready to fight and do anything I could if I had to stand there for four hours I was ready.”
Applebaum’s fans adore her modest and competitive nature, as 12-year old Brett Williams said, “I love to come out and watch the women play tennis, but one of my favorites is Melissa because she’s so competitive.”
From her encouraging shouts after winning a point to the brazen stare in her eyes when she needs to get the job done, her personality is displayed all over the court. When it comes down to it, she is an average young woman who loves Chandler on Friends and reading Message in a Bottle.
Hopefully for Applebaum, her drive and competitive nature will lead her to the Big East Championship and the NCAA tournament.
“This is in my blood, for games like this, this is why you play tennis, you play tennis to compete, for moments just like this when you’re down and out, and you bring it back and you win it,” she said. “Moments like this are worth everything, this is why I work my butt off and cry on the court. I do it for moments like this.”
Antoinette Cordova can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org