Native Miamians and elite women’s college tennis coaches Paige Yaroshuk-Tews and Ronni Reis Bernstein — both in the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame — exchanged good-natured text messages last weekend after each guided her team to an NCAA Round of 32 victory.
Yaroshuk-Tews’ seventh-ranked Miami team will meet Bernstein’s No. 10 Michigan squad in the NCAA Sweet 16 at 1 p.m. Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Looking forward to seeing you in some warm weather,’’ Yaroshuk-Tews, 42, a Killian High grad, told Bernstein.
Bernstein, 50, a Sunset High grad, texted Yaroshuk-Tews back and jokingly mentioned the word “rain’’ in the reply. “She obviously would rather play us indoors, and we would rather play outdoors,’’ Yaroshuk-Tews said.
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Forecast for Tulsa: overcast with temperatures in the mid-60s during Thursday’s match, which likely will be played outdoors.
Miami lost 4-2 to Michigan on Feb. 5 in the ITA National Indoor Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. The Hurricanes defeated Michigan outdoors in the 2011 NCAA Round of 16 in Palo Alto, California.
Bernstein, one of the greatest tennis players in UM history, was an eight-time All-American for the Hurricanes from 1985-88 and an NCAA doubles champion (29-0 in 1986) who went on to coach FIU for 10 years before being wooed away to Michigan in 2007.
Yaroshuk-Tews, in her 15th season coaching at Miami, has led the Hurricanes to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the 11th consecutive year, the third-longest active streak in the country.
If Miami (21-5) beats Michigan (22-6) on Thursday, it would advance to a Saturday NCAA quarterfinal against the Sweet 16 winner between top-ranked and No. 2 seed Florida and No. 15 Stanford — the two teams with the longest active Sweet 16 streaks (Stanford, 35; Florida, 12).
Bernstein, 3-4 all-time against Miami, has led the Wolverines to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in the past seven seasons and is trying to become the second Michigan women’s tennis coach to reach 200 wins. Her record in Ann Arbor: 199-52 (.793).
Yaroshuk-Tews’ record at Miami: 306-89 (.775).
“It’s weird playing them, no doubt,’’ Bernstein told the Miami Herald. “I still root for them if we’re not playing them because that’s where I went to school and it was a big part of my family’s life. My husband’s family and my family are still down there.
“My sons are into Miami football, and we still follow the sports there. But I want us to get through [Thursday] to advance.’’
She said it “took a while’’ to get adjusted to Ann Arbor but that her family loves it now.
“I really enjoy the change of season, I’m at a fantastic athletic department and there’s just a huge passion from the Michigan fans. It has been a great place for me to raise my kids,’’ Bernstein said.
Bernstein said she got calls from other schools when she was at FIU, but that “Paige was already at Miami and doing a great job.’’
Yaroshuk-Tews, who played at UCLA, said she followed the career of Bernstein back when Yaroshuk-Tews was a budding junior tennis star. “It’s cool we’re meeting again at the NCAA championships,’’ the Miami coach said. “I have a lot of respect for what Ronni meant to the Miami tennis program. I know she’s a big part of our history and has done an unbelievable job.
Fellow UM Sports Hall of Famer Ian Duvenhage, 57, who coached Bernstein at Miami and is now the Vanderbilt men’s coach, will see both coaches next week at the NCAA individual championships. He is still a mentor to Bernstein and called her “very talented, very intelligent and one of the noblest and kindest persons I ever had the privilege of coaching.’’
But he said the strong-willed Bernstein wasn’t always “the easiest player’’ he coached.
He recalled a tennis match UM was playing in 1986 at Trinity in San Antonio, Texas, with the match tied at 4 and the Canes down 4-1 with Miami’s No 3 doubles team on the court. The time got to be too late and Duvenhage ordered the other players to get to the airport with an assistant so they could catch their flights.
Vanessa Binns, one of the doubles players on the court, looked up, saw everyone leaving and started to cry.
“Ronni looked at me and said, ‘I’m not leaving,’ ” Duvenhage said. “I thought, ‘OK, this is probably a fight I’m not going to win.’ ’’
With Bernstein’s screaming encouragement, the Hurricanes came back to win the match and they traveled back to Miami the next day.
“The tennis community is a small community in many ways,’’ Duvenhage said. “We sometimes come up against people with whom we have a lot in common. It’ll be interesting to see what happens Thursday.’’