Countdown: Rodriguez Excited to Head to Louisville
by Sonny Dearth, 6 November 2013
Special from the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, HRVarsity.com
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The allure of Louisville and the ACC was strong enough that Ariana Rodriguez didn't even need an official visit to decide her college destination.
Rodriguez, a homeschooling 5-Star recruit from the Bronx, N.Y., committed this fall to the Cardinals after one unofficial trip to Bluegrass country.
"We did an unofficial visit," Rodriguez said. "It wasn't as big as I thought it was. I didn't want to go to a huge school, so the size of the school is perfect."
In the senior class, Rodriguez is ranked 57th nationally and fourth in New York by the Tennis Recruiting Network. In 2010, she climbed as high as 19th in her class.
Louisville finished last season at No. 72 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings while playing in the Big East, but the massive dose of conference realignment seems to have helped the Cardinals' tennis recruiting.
After spending this school year in the American Athletic Conference, the U of L will head to the Atlantic Coast Conference - in effect replacing Maryland, which is going to the Big Ten.
Rodriguez is one of three 5-Star players who have committed to the Cardinals, joining No. 54 Aleksandra Mally of Franklin Square, N.Y., and No. 70 Jessie-Lynn Paul of Greenville, N.C. Caroline Walter of Louisville, a 2-Star player ranked 448th in the senior class, also has pledged to play for the U of L.
"We're hoping to bring this team up in the rankings and be one of the greatest in the nation," Rodriguez said.
In last season's final ITA top 75, the ACC provided 10 teams: No. 4 North Carolina, No. 8 Miami, No. 13 Clemson, No. 14 Duke, No. 15 Virginia, No. 21 Georgia Tech, No. 24 Florida State, No. 43 North Carolina State, No. 53 Virginia Tech and No. 64 Boston College. Notre Dame, 23rd last season as a Big East team, is beginning its first ACC campaign.
"Louisville was definitely pursuing me the most out of all the schools," Rodriguez said. "They're going into the ACC, and it gives me a chance to compete against some of the best in the nation."
Rodriguez complimented head coach Mark Beckham, a Louisville native and former U of L player, and his assistant, Stefan Naughton.
"The coaches were definitely fantastic," she said. "They're so nice. They're very aggressive-minded coaches and I'm an aggressive player."
Rodriguez said she likes to belt hard groundstrokes, "and then as soon as I get the opportunity, I'm going to rush the net. The net is where I'm the most comfortable."