Women’s tennis is mentally tough

The University of Miami women’s tennis team will play two home matches this weekend against FIU (1-0) and No. 2 Florida (2-0).

The ‘Canes enter the weekend with a 2-2 record after losing to No. 18 California in a hotly contested 4-3 match. With the loss, the team fell to No. 13 in the ITA rankings.

The Hurricanes will take on their cross-town rivals today. The Golden Panthers, who moved up to No. 26 in the ITA rankings this week, swept Jacksonville on Sunday in their first match of the season.

Last year, the Hurricanes defeated FIU with ease, sweeping the match 7-0. The win extended Miami’s overall series lead over the Panthers to 4-2.

“[FIU] is always a solid team,” said Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews. “Coming off two losses, we have to go out and get a good match under our belt. We can’t underestimate their team; they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

After traveling across town to meet the Panthers at FIU, the Hurricanes will host the second-ranked team in the country, the University of Florida.

The Gators swept both UCF and Furman for an unblemished start to their season.They will take on South Florida at home before heading to Miami.

“[The Gators] probably fight harder than any team in the country,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “This match will be a great test because their team pushes you mentally as well as physically. We’ve got to show up ready to play and come through with both the mental and the physical side.”

The team has continued to prepare for the two matches this weekend and players have high expectations for the outcome of their tough match against the Gators on Sunday.

“We are keeping everything consistent with what we have been doing in the last month,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I think we match up well against UF.”

Key players such as Megan Bradley and Staci Stevens left behind big shoes to fill. Younger players have stepped up to the challenge and proven they can lead the Hurricanes to another winning season.

“Audra Cohen is without a doubt one of the No. 1 players in the country, but she doesn’t have a ranking because she hasn’t played enough matches,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She is definitely filling Megan Bradley’s shoes.”

Freshman Monica Dancevic showed improvement in the last semester, earning her the opportunity to play at the position once held by Stevens.

“Her maturity level, fight, desire and understanding of college tennis make her the most improved player on the team,” Yaroshuk-Tews said.

Despite recent losses to California and Texas during the ITA Indoor Championships, Yaroshuk-Tews said she is confident that the Hurricanes’ season will be successful.

“You can’t judge our team on wins and losses because the tougher teams we play make us tougher,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “The rankings aren’t set yet.”

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at s.arnold@umiami.edu