University of Miami has suffered some setbacks with some of its important players either transferring or graduating.
The surprise came when sophomore Wendy Zhang transferred to Rice. She earned doubles All-American honors last season while teaming with Wagner.
Fortunately for coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, whose 12th-ranked Canes will start the 2017 season with the Miami Spring Invite on Jan. 20, she got a fateful phone call from Maci Epstein just one week after learning of Zhang’s departure.
Epstein helped lead Virginia to Atlantic Coast Conference championships in her sophomore and junior seasons — the only two years she was healthy for spring tennis with the Cavaliers — told Yaroshuk-Tews she was transferring and looking for a new school.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Yaroshuk-Tews, who quickly set up a recruiting visit. “I had always hated playing against Maci because she has the ability to blast winners, and she’s a great competitor with a lot personality. When you lose a kid like Maci [in recruiting], you hope she goes to a school far away. Instead, she stayed in the ACC with Virginia and beat us six or eight times, including singles and doubles. We only beat her once.”
This time, she chose UM for her final season of eligibility. “I emailed some other schools,” said Epstein, a 23-year-old who is studying for her Masters degree in communication studies. “But in the back of my mind, I knew it was going to be Miami.”
Overall, the Hurricanes have a deep roster — nine quality players competing for six singles spots — and Epstein has been impressed by the entire atmosphere. “At Virginia, [the coaches] used negativity to fuel us,” Epstein said. “I don’t think that’s the right way to go about it, and it’s such a difference with the positivity at Miami.”