In 1964, The Beatles took America by storm when they played on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
Here at the University of Miami, the seventh-ranked women’s tennis team has its own version of “The Fab Four” in the form of four nationally ranked singles players – senior Laura Vallverdu and juniors Bianca Eichkorn, Michaela Kissell and Julia Cohen.
Vallverdu, who finished runner-up in NCAA singles competition, might be the elder stateswoman of the quartet, but she still sees herself as a younger member.
“I have to be more like the leader,” the Valencia, Venezuela, native said. “Not just because I’m older, just because I’m that way.”
Eichkorn, from Tengen, Germany, collected 40 wins on the season to lead the team and became just the third player in program history to reach the mark. She earned All-American honors alongside Cohen and Vallverdu in singles play.
“I’m a pretty hard fighter,” she said. “I’m fighting until the very last point and don’t give anything to the girl.”
Kissell, whose unmistakable “trademark” is a noise she makes while performing a breathing technique, admits that fellow UM athletes and her hometown Steelers know who she is because of it.
Ranked 52nd in the nation, Kissell claims that she’s the jokester as well as the singer and dancer on the team. On the court, the 5’8” Hostetter, Pa., native won 36 matches for a fifth-place tie for victories in a single season.
“I just really try to fight for every point and not give my opponents’ too many free mistakes,” she said.
But the final piece to the puzzle was Cohen, who transferred from Florida in the fall of 2008.
While Kissell and Vallverdu are talkative, and Eichkorn lies somewhere in the middle, the 5’6” Philadelphia, Pa., native easily fits on the other side of the spectrum.
“I’m pretty shy. I just stay to myself,” she said.
Kissell vividly recalls her first day on campus and the mentality that head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews instilled in the girls.
“I knew that Paige wanted to win a national championship,” she said. “ I was hoping to be a part of something as special as what we’re trying to do right now.”