Their names are Daniel and Laura. They are both All-Americans, and they, respectively, play the No. 1 spot for the men’s and women’s tennis teams.
Despite their great individual abilities and accomplishments, to friends and the tennis world they are simply known as “the Vallverdus.”
“I think it’s because we are always together and always get along. It’s kind of cool, actually,” Laura said.
This is something so seemingly simple, yet it is greatly telling of the relationship these siblings have beyond tennis.
“We are very close,” Daniel said about his relationship with his sister. “We are really good to each other. We live together and we share everything with each other. Living with her, away from home, makes things a lot easier for me.
“Being siblings and because of tennis, she understands me better than anyone else. I can tell her anything. I can turn to her for anything.”
This relationship is not simply a product of being together at the University of Miami. The siblings have been close since childhood, and it is that closeness that has made them such a dynamic duo.
“We always went everywhere together. We went to the same school. We went to the same club to play sports. We practiced tennis together,” Laura recalled. “He is my older brother, so he was very protective. It was annoying at times, but when I needed him, he was always there for me.”
A major facet of their relationship revolves around their mutual love for tennis. It was something they both grew up with and have in common.
“Even without tennis, I know we would be close, but because of it, I feel we understand each other better,” Daniel said.
As the two got older, their love for tennis grew. Although they were not playing against each other anymore, they were still competing, and they had become a handful for opposing players. Thus, it was almost a no-brainer that the two would play at the collegiate level.
Daniel was first to arrive on the scene as a Hurricane. He came to Coral Gables a semester before Laura. He loved the city of Miami, the weather and the coaching staff at UM.
Coming to Miami was an easy choice for him. For Laura, though, the decision to attend UM was not quite as easy.
“I always wanted to come to UM, but there was no scholarship, so I looked at nearby schools. But then in February or March, I got a call from [head coach] Paige [Yaroshuk-Tews]. A scholarship had opened up. I said yes right away. It was like a gift from God.”
At first glance, it is easy to simply acknowledge the siblings’ tennis skills.
But the Vallverdus said by relying on each other they have learned more about themselves and the sport.
“She has taught me a lot, about tennis and life,” Daniel said. “She has taught me to open up as a person.”
Laura said her brother’s influence has impacted her life in various aspects.
“He has taught me to be calmer and more patient,” Laura stated. “He has taught me to not always show my emotions, on and off the court.”
Pravin Patel may be contacted at email@example.com.
Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela
ITA Singles Ranking: 19
Awards: 2007 All-American
Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela
ITA Singles Ranking: 3
Awards: 2006 ACC, Freshman of the Year, 2006 All-American, 2007 All-American