Trish Engelman

After former Head Coach Ray Reppert left the team to work in Florida, Assistant Head Coach Ricardo Rosas (above) took over the tennis program.

Ricardo Rosas was preparing for another year as the assistant coach for Miami University’s women’s tennis team. Little did he know that he would be the head coach before the season even started.

As his first season is coming to an end, Rosas has led the team to a 9-12 overall record and 3-4 in Mid-American Conference play.

Following the departure of Head Coach Ray Reppert Feb. 14, the team had to find a replacement when the 12-year coach decided to accept a job opportunity in Florida as the head tennis instructor of a country club.

“When we found out that he was leaving, we were all in a state of shock,” senior Linda Jirouskova said. “Especially for us seniors, he has been our coach for four years, and he has done so much for us beyond the game of tennis.”

However, the team understood Reppert’s decision.

“We understand that it is a great opportunity for him,” said junior Victoria Pulido. “The entire team was very understanding of his decision.”

Luckily, the Red and White had someone to turn to when assistant coach Ricardo Rosas stepped in as the new head coach for the ‘Hawks, and did his best to keep the team on track.

“Although things changed when he left we had to stick together and continue doing what we had always been doing as a team,” Jirouskova said.

Rosas, who is in his fourth season with the Miami University tennis program, brought a tennis background in which he competed in the national and international level.

Rosas graduated from Instituto Villa de Cortes Mexico in Xalapa, Mexico. As a junior player, he was one of Mexico’s finest, ranking as high as No. 6 in singles and No. 12 in doubles nationally. He was also ranked No. 26 in singles and No. 12 in doubles in the International Tennis Federation World Rankings.

Perhaps Rosas’ most distinguished accomplishment came in 1993 and 1994, when he participated in the U.S. Open, The French Open and Wimbledon at the age of 18.

Following his junior career, he went on to play four years on the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour, from 1994 to 1997, reaching career-best rankings of No. 574 in singles and No. 375 in doubles.

His accomplishments also include representing Mexico in several international events, one of which was the 1994 Davis Cup.

“Ricky is a great motivator,” Pulido said. “He is always in a positive mood and has a great attitude with the team.”

Before Reppert’s departure, the team had a powerful combination going for them – Rosas’ contagious energy and Reppert’s years of experience.

“Ricky did a great job of combining what we were used to when Reppert was head coach, but also adding a little of his own modernization to the team,” Jirouskova said.

In his new position, Rosas said he intends to make a few minor changes, which he believes will result in ultimate success for the team.

“We are working on bringing our energy into the team so that we can focus a little bit more on our matches,” Rosas said. “I want them to do well in the classroom, but at the same time be able to perform their best on the court too.”

The RedHawks struggled early in the month of April, falling to Bowling Green 5-2 April 6, then losing the next day to the top team in the Mid-American Conference, Western Michigan 7-0.

“The girls understand it’s the nature of the sport – sometimes they are going to win and other times they will lose,” Rosas said. “However, if we encourage each other the results we expect will eventually come.”

The ‘Hawks got back on the winning track and uncovered their usual team chemistry as they downed April 12 conference opponent the Northern Illinois Huskies, 5-2.

With the help and support from their new head coach, the RedHawks foresee the benefits and multiple victories the future of their season has in store for them.

“Ricky knows exactly what to say to us on the court,” Pulido said. “He is more than a coach to us, he is our friend and we trust that he will take care of us.”

Miami rounds out its regular season when they host Ball State at 1 p.m. April 21 at home.