Women’s tennis has big shoes to fill without Bradley

Three University of Miami women’s tennis singles players and one doubles team were named to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason rankings, released earlier this month.

This is an encouraging sign for the Hurricanes, who hope to fill the colossal void left behind after the graduation of standout Megan Bradley, who lost only two matches last season.

Bradley, who received a B.A. in sports administration, finished the 2004-05 season with an overall record of 44-2 in singles and 34-4 in doubles matches. She was also named the NCAA Women’s Tennis Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Week four times last season.

With the departure of Bradley, the doubles duo of senior Melissa Applebaum and junior Audrey Banada, who are No. 12 in the nation to start the season, will have to intensify their level of play. The Miami tandem finished 2004 at No. 36 after posting a 4-2 mark during the spring.

Junior Emily Mowery, who finished last season ranked No. 121 after posting a 24-8 overall record, begins the season at No. 86. She will play a critical role for the ‘Canes at either first or second singles.

Applebaum and sophomore Patricia Starzyk were also ranked in singles. Applebaum compiled a 24-10 overall record and is No. 98 while Starzyk, who registered a 21-4 record during the spring, which included a 20-match unbeaten streak, is ranked No. 106.

The Hurricanes, led by Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, finished their inaugural ACC season with a 21-5 overall record in 2005. They also advanced to the NCAA regional, where they lost to Georgia Tech, 4-3, in the round of 32. UM’s final rank was No. 13 in the nation and second in the ACC.

The Hurricanes will welcome a few newcomers to the squad this year, including the biggest pickup of the off season: Audra Cohen, a sophomore transfer from Northwestern University.

Cohen had a remarkable freshman season, where she earned All-American honors in both singles and doubles and was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Rookie of the Year. In her inaugural collegiate campaign, Cohen reached the finals of the NCAA Singles Championship as well as the semifinal of the NCAA Doubles Championship.

The Plantation native opened her collegiate career winning her first 23 singles matches and posted a 51-7 overall singles record this season. Cohen became one of only eight players to record at least 50 victories in the modern era of NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis and her 51 wins ties her for third all-time.

South Alabama transfer Ana Rupic and incoming freshman Monika Dancevic round out the Hurricanes’ 2005 recruiting class.

“This is probably the most significant recruiting class that I have had since taking over at Miami,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “Their talent is evident, but what I’m most excited about is that these young women are hungry. They have personality, drive and vision. They will not settle for anything less than success.”

The ‘Canes will begin competition in Gainesville for the Gator Fall Classic this weekend.

Mike Holt can be contacted at m.holt1@umiami.edu.