Talent leads to results for women

With talented newcomers such as sophomore transfer Megan Bradley and freshman Melissa Applebaum, expectations were high for Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk and the rest of the Unviersity of Miami women’s tennis team entering the 2002-2003 season.
In her second year as coach, Yaroshuk took her crew into the year looking to defend their title as Big East champions. Fortunately for her, the Hurricanes squad was one that fought through injuries and featured a variety of skilled young players.
“The talent’s here,” Yaroshuk said. “The talent’s always been here. The work ethic has always been here.”
The work ethic was prominent all year for Miami, as the team worked itself to another Big East title and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Regionals. Without playing through numerous injuries, it could have been a different story for the ‘Canes.
“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.”
Regardless of how much toughness helped the Hurricanes succeed, the play of Bradley and Applebaum led the way for Miami. Not only did Miami’s two young stars finish the season as the No. 1 and 2 singles players, but Bradley and Applebaum ended the year paired up as the number one doubles pairing for Miami, and one of the best doubles teams in the nation.
Bradley and Applebaum gave the Hurricanes key victories in both Regional games on their way to advancing into the NCAA Doubles tournament. They were defeated in the second round of the tournament by the No. 1 ranked doubles pairing in the country, but their contributions did not go unnoticed. Bradley finished up ranking No. 55 in the country in singles, while Applebaum turned in an impressive national ranking of 74th. As a doubles team, Bradley and Applebaum ranked 21st in the nation.
Also continuing to emerge as a reliable player for the ‘Canes was junior Mari Toro. Toro, whose sister Tari Ann serves as an assistant coach, provided Miami with much-needed experience and depth. Toro gave Miami a solid number three singles player while teaming up with a new doubles partner, Staci Stevens, to become part of the number three doubles pairing for Miami. At the season’s end, Toro ranked No. 117 in the nation.
Miami loses just two seniors from this year’s squad. Abby Smith and Igna deVilliers exit as the leaders of the team and the number two doubles pairing on the Hurricanes. The loss of Smith and deVilliers places even more pressure on Toro to become the senior leader next season.
The Hurricanes finished the year with a record of 17-7 after losing to Kentucky 4-3 in the second round of the NCAA Regionals. Yaroshuk should be expecting a lot more out her Hurricanes next season, and with Applebaum and Bradley getting better each time out, Miami will have a lot to look forward to next year as the team looks to establish itself as one of the nation’s elite.