May 8, 2009


Coral Gables, Fla. - Sixth-ranked and No. 6 overall seed Miami wasted little time defeating fourth-seed Army, 4-0, Friday afternoon in opening round action of the NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament [Coral Gables Regional] at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

Miami (24-4) jumped out to a commanding lead in doubles play, owning 7-1 scores across the board. The No. 3 doubles squad of Gabriela Mejia and Claudia Wasilewski took the first step for UM taking the doubles point, collecting an 8-1 decision over Army's duo of Sarah Giles-Madden and Robie Verano.

It was a race to see which court would finish next as No. 1 and No. 2 doubles were serving for match point in favor of UM. Eventually, the top flight team for Miami, the 19th-ranked squad of Michaela Kissell and Laura Vallverdu, took the doubles point on the strength of an 8-1 decision over the Black Knights' Niki Flach and Michael Tollerton.

That would give UM a 1-0 lead after doubles play--a lead they've never let slip on the season en route to the 15th home victory of the season.

"At home this year, we've been pretty quick with some of our matches," expressed Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, 2009 ACC Coach of the Year. "We've been playing well at home this year. The girls are playing well and they're sharp."

That sharpness carried over into singles play where the `Canes used their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players for a quick burst of energy. Army (24-9) came into the match rolling, having claimed the Patriot League Title, but the Hurricanes were simply too much at the key positions.

Three-time All-ACC performer and 24th-ranked Laura Vallverdu (26-7) stepped off the court first with a dominating 6-0, 6-0 decision against the Black Knights' Niki Flach, giving UM a 2-0 advantage in the match. For Vallverdu, it was her 10th consecutive win in a stretch that includes three victories during the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships.

Julia Cohen (28-5), ranked No. 3 in the latest Campbell's/ITA singles poll, marched to victory with an equally impressive 6-0, 6-0 straight-set defeat of Anne Houghton at the top singles position. That allowed the UM lead to swell to 3-0 in the match.

"We needed to come out here and set a tone," admitted Yaroshuk-Tews, who has advanced to an NCAA Regional Final in each of her eight years in Coral Gables. "It's been a few weeks since we've played a match, and it was important for us to play a clean match."

The match would conclude for the Hurricanes, earning their 12th shutout victory of the year, when junior Claudia Wasilewski (24-10) defeated Army's Robie Verano in straight sets at the No. 6 singles slot (6-1, 6-0). That would give Wasilewski her fifth-straight win, and improving her to 13-5 at the six slot on the season.

For Army, the Black Knights end the season with a 24-9 record, capturing their fifth consecutive Patriot League title--the 10th overall for the school.

"We've had a great season, and we had a nice run there for a while with a nice winning streak," stated Army head coach Paul Peck afterwards. "You have to put things into perspective. They're student-athletes, and they're going to be future army officers. They're out there battling the best they can, and I'm proud of what they've done."

Miami now faces cross-town rival and No. 29 FIU in tomorrow's Regional Championship with a shot at the `Sweet 16' on the line, with the match back at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center beginning at 2 p.m. Tickets to the match are just $5 at the gate.

FIU advanced into Saturday's Regional Final with a hard-fought 4-3 win over No. 42 Princeton earlier in the day. FIU used a third-set victory at No. 3 singles to secure the win, and setup a rematch of a Coral Gables Regional Championship match from 2006. UM won that match, 4-0, with the help of Melissa Applebaum, now head coach at FIU, as the Hurricanes advanced to the NCAA Championship match during that season.

"We've got to be on our toes tomorrow," stated Yaroshuk-Tews. "We don't take FIU lightly."

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