The 2004 season for women’s tennis started with both rain and victory. The Hurricanes defeated West Virginia in a shutout victory to open their season last Sunday afternoon. Anxious to play since their first game of the season versus Florida Atlantic was rescheduled due to nasty weather at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center; the women had more than desire written on their face, but the need for competition.
“We just wanted to get in here and play,” junior Megan Bradley said.
Miami dominated the doubles matches, which led to a 1-0 advantage before singles play began. Bradley and sophomore Melissa Applebaum defeated Melissa Day and Jennifer Watkins of West Virginia 8-3. The dynamic senior duo of Sihem Bennacer and Sara Robbins defeated Courtney Howell and Ashley Constantine 8-3.
The combination of experience and determination from senior Mari Toro and freshman Audrey Banada led to the defeat of Raynie Theis and Kelly Walsh in an 8-2 victory.
Toro was especially excited about this match.
“This is my last first match since I am a senior, and to come out and win [is great], and the day was just so beautiful,” she said. “I was mentally ready to go, and I think we all displayed that today.”
In their singles’ matches the Hurricanes swept through all six contests, winning in straight sets. Toro went on to beat Watkins 6-0, 6-1, and No. 11 Bradley defeated Day (6-1, 6-0), who she had also defeated in the doubles match-up.
Bradley was excited to start the new season with a win that would help their freshman, Banada, sophomore, Natalie Mikolich, and new assistant coach, David Anderton, “get acquainted with the game before we encounter the tough part of the season.”
Anderton, who just started with the Hurricanes, said “it was easy to come into a team coached by Paige [Yaroshuk]; it was such an easy adjustment for me. It was too bad we didn’t play yesterday because of the weather, but it was great to start with a win today.”
Banada displayed her talent in defeating Constantine 6-4, 6-1. Bennacer went on to defeat Kelly Walsh 6-2, 6-2 and No. 99 Staci Stevens defeated Howell 6-4, 6-4.
No. 97 Melissa Applebaum played the match of her life in defeating Theis in a 6-0, 6-0 shutout victory.
“We practice hard enough; I just hope I can keep playing this well until the end of our season,” Applebaum said.
“It is always great to start with a win under your belt; it gives the freshmen some experience and pressure,” Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk said. “I’m very proud of them; it’s always just a great feeling to win.”
The victory allowed the Hurricanes to improve to 5-0 all-time versus the Mountaineers. The No. 22 Hurricanes will now continue their season by hosting No. 68 Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Friday at noon at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
“It’s great to start strong, but more importantly [is] how you finish,” Applebaum said. “If at the end of the season we play as well as we did today, then our hard work has finally paid off.”