The Miami Hurricanes could not have entered the Big East Tournament on a better note.
The ‘Canes defeated Notre Dame 6-1 in their final match of the regular season, which was good enough to vault them back into the top 20. However, now it’s time for the real season, according to head coach Page Yaroshuk.
“The season is far from over,” Yaroshuk said. “The most important part of the season is in front of us.”
Miami holds the No.1 seed in this weekend’s tournament at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, finishing the regular season with a 15-5 record and a No. 19 ranking. The Hurricanes await the winner of the Virginia Tech-Rutgers first round match. The goal is nothing short of another conference title for Yaroshuk’s squad.
“They understand that they’re in control of their own destiny,” Yaroshuk said. “Every time we step out onto the court we have the talent and the ability. They step out and they play aggressive tennis, and they play to win rather than not to lose. This team could go very far in the NCAAs.”
Several ‘Canes have elevated their games as of late, including the doubles pairing of freshman Melissa Applebaum and sophomore Megan Bradley, who have won their last eight matches. Sophomore Staci Stevens has also contributed with eight consecutive singles victories.
As a whole, the Hurricanes are red hot with victories in four out of their last five contests, including wins against No.72 Old Dominion and No.65 Virginia Tech.
Still, Yaroshuk isn’t entirely satisfied with the team’s effort.
“We’re playing better tennis at every position than we were playing four weeks ago, but they all need to step up,” Yaroshuk said. “They all need to improve their level of tennis.”
At the same time, Yaroshuk knows there are two things that can be counted upon with the team.
“The talent’s here,” Yaroshuk said. “The talent’s always been here. The work ethic has always been here.”
Much of Miami’s success can also be attributed to sheer toughness. All season long, the Hurricanes have played through injuries and displayed heart, something Yaroshuk is proud of.
“No matter how much talent you have, you can’t be successful if you’re not out on the court. In the past, soreness has kept our kids off of the court,” Yaroshuk said. “With this group of girls, they’ve played through soreness, and that’s what you have to do as an elite athlete.”
“I think this year just being healthy, being on the court for every match and not having any players sit out due to injuries has really helped the program.”
The Hurricanes look to continue their hot play as the team sets its sight on the NCAA tournament. Miami has been ranked as high as No. 13 this season, and Yaroshuk sees the ‘Canes as one of the nation’s best.
“I think we can give any team a run for their money,” Yaroshuk said.
Miami plays its first game of the Big East Tournament tomorrow at 9 AM. The championship match will be played Sunday at noon.
Adam Aizer can be reached at Aizersgotflava@aol.com