Young team ready to make a racquet next season

Head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews will head into her 11th season with the University of Miami women’s tennis program after a successful season that left her craving more success.

In 2011, the team was ranked fifth overall nationally in tournament play before their season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament to the top-ranked Florida Gators. For the Canes, the trip to the Elite Eight marked the third straight season in which they’ve advanced as far and the fourth in five years.

After the elimination, attention then shifted to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships for team leaders Bianca Eickhorn, ranked No. 6 and Anna Bartenstein, ranked No. 36. Both were eliminated by top 20 opponents in singles play. The two then teamed up — as the No. 5 ranked doubles tandem — to defeat VCU but then fall in the Round of 16.

The highlight of the season came when the team’s lone senior, Eickhorn, set the school record in career singles wins topping former teammate Laura Vallverdu. Eickhorn finished her career with 133 singles victories.

By the numbers, Eickhorn is the best to ever bless the Neil Schiff Tennis Center with the racquet in her hands. While she no longer has eligibility and has graduated, she leaves her teammates with strong hopes for the future.

“Bianca is the leader of the team,” says Bartenstein, “she’s the only senior and sets a good example.”

Bartenstein has learned plenty from Eickhorn and the team shouldn’t miss a beat with Bartenstein taking over the throne along with fellow senior Gabriela Mejia.

Last year Bartenstein went 24-7 on the season and 19-4 in dual match play. She proved to be as good as advertised in the clutch recording an 11-4 record against nationally ranked opponents and going 10-1 against ACC foes.

When teamed up with Eickhorn, the two posted a 32-5 record in doubles play.

Gabriela Mejia went 25-9 last year. She finished the year successfully, winning nine of her last 11 matches including wins over ranked opponents from Michigan and Florida. Two seasons ago, as a sophomore she earned All-America honors.

Four of the eight players on the team were freshmen last season who will be heading into their sophomore campaigns.

The women’s tennis team is still a young bunch that is preparing to blossom and flourish in 2011-12. Leadership, consistency, and young talent best describe this squad.