On a quiet, cloudy Sunday afternoon at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, history was made.
You wouldn’t have been able to tell by the reactions, however. As a matter of fact, even the athlete that fought her way into the University of Miami record books wasn’t aware of what she had just accomplished.
With a 6-1, 6-2 singles victory over Mississippi State’s Olesya Tsigvintseva this past weekend, UM senior Laura Vallverdu became Miami’s all-time leader in singles wins for women’s tennis. She celebrated the win like any other, with a small fist pump and a handshake with her rival before heading to the other courts to cheer on her teammates.
“I had heard I was getting close but I didn’t know how close or even how many matches the record was,” Vallverdu said.
Vallverdu, a three-time All-American with a No. 7 singles national ranking, won her 111th career singles match to surpass alumna Audrey Bañada (2003-2007) for the most all-time UM women’s tennis singles competition victories.
“Nobody deserves it more. She puts in the work and she’s got the attitude,” ninth-year head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She’s probably one of the most explosive players you see in college tennis and she’s very receptive to coaching. Those things set her apart.”
Vallverdu, a Valencia, Venezuela native, credited Yaroshuk-Tews after her record-breaking win.
“From the beginning she really believed in me and saw what my weaknesses were and helped me improve them,” she said. “Also, I really love the University of Miami and I wanted to give them back for all they’ve given me.”
Bañada was in attendance on Saturday’s matches and reminded her former teammate Vallverdu that she was approaching her record. On Sunday, Yaroshuk-Tews praised Bañada for her impact on the program.
“Audrey is the reason why we’re a top 10 team in the country right now,” said Yaroshuk-Tews. “She was a player that came through here and set high standards for everyone and really helped establish Miami tennis.”
Vallverdu, an NCAA Singles Finalist in 2009, has now raised the bar and is guiding the No. 7-ranked Miami women’s tennis team.
“Laura is an incredible leader to have on this team,” said Yaroshuk-Tews. “If she plays the type of tennis she knows how to play, she could be playing for the national title again.”
Vallverdu is not concerned about all-time records and rewriting history, she has other things on her mind.
“I’m looking forward to getting into shape during the whole season to peak at the right time, and go for the national title,” Vallverdu said. “But my first focus right now is the team.”
Pedro Ortiz-Meoz may be contacted at email@example.com.