Sports

Junior Laura Vallverdu finishes as NCAA Singles runner-up

Lau trophy.1Laura Vallverdu may not have played as the top singles player for the No. 7 University of Miami women’s tennis team, but one sure couldn’t tell.

Vallverdu finished as the runner-up at the NCAA Women’s Singles Championship in College Station, Texas, falling to sixth-ranked Mallory Cecil of Duke.

It ended an impressive run for the three-time All-American, who was just the second player in school history to earn a trip to the finals. She also became the first to amass 30 or more wins in each of her three seasons at UM.

“I couldn’t be more proud of her, and she showed everyone what we’ve always known, that she’s truly one of the best players in the country,” eighth-year head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said.

She and fifth-ranked sophomore Julia Cohen, who lost to Cecil in the Final Four, led a Hurricane team (26-5) that reached the NCAA Quarterfinals for the fourth time in six years. The pair along with sophomore Bianca Eichkorn earned All-American honors.

In the Elite Eight, the Blue Devils, who would go on to win the team national championship, dropped the Canes 4-1. Miami won 15 of its final 17 matches, but both losses came against No. 3 Duke.

“I’m excited to go through the same things with the same girls,” Vallverdu said. “Each and every one of them really knows what our ultimate goal is: to win a team national title.”

The doubles team of Cohen and Eichkorn was named to the No. 2 doubles position on the NCAA Tennis Championship All-Tournament Team after collecting a pair of wins.

Cohen, who transferred from Florida, is more than content.

“I’m really happy that I came to the ‘U,’” she said. “And getting to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament was really nice, but I hope I can win next year. This experience just makes me hungry for more.”

Eichkorn led the team in wins with 40 and also made the Sweet 16.

With every player returning from last year’s squad, Miami hopes that the girls’ postseason experience will lead them to the next level.

“This program’s really made a statement this year,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I think that we’re really starting to build a dynasty.”

August 22, 2009

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Christina De Nicola

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