Miami Hurricanes women’s tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said she “really fought” to get Stephanie Wagner into school.
Four years later, Yaroshuk-Tews looks really smart for having done so — but not as smart as Wagner, a senior who was named UM’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year and the ACC’s Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2014-2015.
Wagner, who is majoring in economics with a minor in psychology, is set to graduate in May. The native of Germany then plans to get her master’s degree in business administration.
“Her SAT scores weren’t at the level that Miami wanted initially,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I had to go to bat for her. English is not her first language. I can’t imagine if I had to take my SAT in German.
“With Steffi, I was convinced she could do well if given the opportunity, and she has close to a 4.0 GPA.”
Wagner is not alone in her academic brilliance, at least not on her Canes tennis team. Everyone on the squad is taking a tough major and doing exceptionally well, according to Yaroshuk-Tews.
Sophomore Silvia Fuentes of Spain has a double major — economics and finance. She has a minor in math and wants to get her master’s, with a potential career as an investment banker.
Sinead Lohan, a sophomore from Ireland and the daughter of teachers, is majoring in economics and plans on getting her master’s. Ana Madacur, a freshman from Argentina, is also studying economics with an interest in business administration.
Yolimar Ogando, a sophomore from Puerto Rico whose parents are chemical engineers, is majoring in accounting and is also interested in finance.
Clementina Riobueno, a senior from Venezuela, is majoring in psychology with a minor in marketing. Sophomore Wendy Zhang, born in China and raised in Canada, is studying business.
And Clara Tanielian, a freshman from France, plans to major in international studies and journalism. Her mother is a biologist and her father is a cardiologist.
What drives these students?
Part of the answer is competition. Every semester when grades are posted, the women on the team all ask each other what they got, fostering a competitive environment outside of tennis.
“In college, you have social life, athletic and academic,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I tell the girls: ‘Pick two because you can’t do all three well.’ They figure out which two to do.”
The coach said that is never more evident than on long plane rides home from matches.
“Of my eight girls, at least six will have their lights on and their books open, studying,” she said. “This is after they played that day and maybe had a tough match. I’m struggling to keep my eyes open on the plane, and they’re studying.”
The beach volleyball program has joined the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association, starting with this spring. The other seven teams in the conference are Alabama-Birmingham, LSU, Georgia State, Florida State, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina and Tulane.