Canes' Future Looks Bright

It will be a while before University of Miami women's tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews comes to grips with the end of another season. But despite coming up short in their quest for a national title she knows the Hurricanes have nothing to be ashamed of.

"The girls know me as the most competitive person in the world, but how can I be upset after what they did," said Yaroshuk-Tews. "It was a great run and we took this program to a place it hadn't been in years."

"When the season started our first goal was to make the NCAAs, but we never dreamed of making it this far. It was a great run and I'm very proud of my team."

No kidding.

Despite being bounced out of the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals by UCLA, the Hurricanes (20-4) put together in an impressive postseason run that netted their eighth Big East title and the team's first 20-win season since 1999.

It was one of the most productive seasons in school history as UM opened with four straight victories, including three over ranked opponents, and sported a 9-1 record before losing a regular-season match to the Bruins in Los Angeles.

The Hurricanes would fall to Notre Dame, but avenged the loss by defeating the Fighting Irish 4-0 for the conference championship. Mari Toro, who was 19-8 in singles competition, ousted Catrina Thompson in straight sets to clinch the victory.

As if that wasn't enough Miami defeated top-ranked Florida and No. 11 Tulane in the NCAAs. The Gators entered the tournament with a 40-match unbeaten streak. UM had not defeated Tulane since 1986.

But a lot of the Hurricanes' success this season was thanks to junior Megan Bradley, ranked No. 4 in the country. Bradley, the team's No. 1 singles player, has suffered just five defeats and accounted for a quarter of the team's singles victories this season. Bradley, 35-5 on the season, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Singles Championships with a victory over Wisconsin's Katie McGafigan.

"Megan has been outstanding," said Yaroshuk-Tews. "There's not much more I can say about her."

Sophomore Melissa Applebaum (15-8, 7-1 at No. 3 singles) and freshman Audrey Banada (16-1 at No. 5) also played a big role for the Hurricanes. What Yaroshuk-Tews would like to see next season is better production from the Canes lower seeded players, especially at No. 6.

"For us to be able to stay with the Stanfords and UCLAs we're going to have to be better at the bottom. The girls know that," she said.

The future also looks bright. Despite losing Toro, Robbins and Sihem Bennacer, all seniors, Applebaum and Banada will likely return next season. Bradley, who might decide to turn pro, would only make the squad stronger if she returns for her final season. And the Hurricanes have already received commitments from several local prep stars.

Yaroshuk-Tews can hardly wait. She is going to take a two-week vacation in the coming days before getting back to work.

"I wish the season started tomorrow, that's how excited I feel about the direction of this program," she said. "We've proven to the rest of the country that this is a program knocking on the door. Now, we have to take the next step and knock it down."

Canes Time Top Stories