Miami tennis fields international roster

Miami Women’s tennis practice at their indoor facility in Hamilton, Ohio. P

hoto by Maggie Cavellier

Miami Women’s tennis practice at their indoor facility in Hamilton, Ohio. P

By Maggie Cavellier and Graham Bearman

After its 2021 season, the Miami University women’s tennis team graduated six seniors, leaving the team with only two returning players: seniors Brindtha Ramasamy and Laura Rico.

The pair shone during the 2021 season, with both being named to the All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) First Team. In December, they were ranked the No. 43 women’s doubles team in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Rico was also named MAC Women’s Tennis Player of the Year.  

To make the most of these star players, coach Ricardo Rosas needed to recruit student athletes that could compete with the best.

Seven new players were recruited from around the world to complete the young and diverse team:

  • Catherine Denysiewicz-Slowek (Drummondville, Canada)
  • Sarah Dev (Chandigarh, India)
  • Makensie Long (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Nishitha Saravanan (Greenbelt, Maryland)
  • Mayu Ushio (Yamaguchi, Japan)
  • Emilia Valentinsson (Malmo, Sweden)
  • Sara Zalukar (Zagreb, Croatia)

This variety of origins among the team provides a unique opportunity for each player.

This map marks the places of origin for Miami University’s Women’s tennis players, head coach and assistant coach.  Graphic by Graham Bearman

“Everyone is from different parts of the world,” Rosas said. “Even though we know we are so different, at the end of the day we are a family.”

Some of the international players, such as freshman Sara Zalukar, were not able to travel to Oxford to visit Miami due to COVID-19 and were only able to see the campus through their computer screens. 

Speaking with Rosas played a vital role in many players’ commitments.

Rosas is a coach who stays positive

Rosas has been with the program since 2002, starting as an assistant coach. He was named head coach in May 2017.

Including two stints as interim head coach, Rosas has a record of 51-37 with the program. As a head coach, he has won both the MAC regular season and tournament title. Rosas also has led the team to multiple NCAA tournament appearances. At the end of the 2019 season, Rosas was named MAC Coach of the Year.

Freshman Makensie Long highlighted Rosas’ ability to support athletes on and off the court.

“Tennis is a very lonely sport,” said Long. “But when I’m down,  (Rosas) stays positive and tells me things that I can pick myself up with.” 

Freshman Sara Zalukar also emphasized the supportive environment Rosas creates throughout the team.

“I love the team spirit. Tennis is an individual sport so usually you’re alone, but here you’re a part of a team and everyone is cheering for you,” Zalukar said.

 Rosas announced Feb. 7 that Champy Halim, a former Miami Men’s tennis player, joined the team as an assistant coach.

 Evaluating the team at mid-season

The young team has had a successful season thus far with a record of 5-3. Notable victories include a 6-1 victory over Butler University Jan. 21, and a 4-3 victory over Harvard University Feb. 21. 

Rosas credits the team’s two seniors, Ramasamy and Rico, for the smooth transition.

“The seniors have brought this program to a new level,” said Rosas.

For the remainder of the season, Coach Rosas has set his sights on securing the MAC championship and appearing in the NCAA Tournament. He also strives to further develop the program and increase its national reputation.

With its two seniors, Miami tennis has star quality and talent other teams may struggle to compete with. However, much of the success that the team has will lie with how the seven freshmen players can transition to the intensity of college tennis.