Nov. 18, 2013
University of Minnesota head coach Chuck Merzbacher announced the signing of two student-athletes to National Letters of Intent Monday afternoon. Mehvish Safdar and Caroline Ryba will join the Gophers beginning in the 2014-15 season.
“These two student-athletes are fantastic students, hard workers on and off the court, and most importantly, team players,” said Merzbacher. “I would consider them fierce competitors while holding up the standard of sportsmanship we expect at Minnesota. The addition of Mehvish and Caroline to our program means a great deal to our future success. I would consider this to be a top-25 recruiting class.”
Safdar, a native of Mason, Ohio who attends Ursuline Academy, amassed a 116-8 singles record and a 24-0 doubles record in her prep career, collecting school records for singles victories and overall victories. After going 15-0 in doubles en route to a state championship as a freshman, she went on to win two state singles titles, becoming the first player in Ursuline history to accomplish both feats.
A two-time team most valuable player, Safdar earned first-team all-state singles accolades in her final three high school seasons and was a first-team all-state doubles honoree after a perfect first season. She has made a splash in USTA play as well—she is the No. 51 senior in the country and the ninth-ranked player in the Great Lakes Region according to tennisrecruiting.net.
Also accomplished in school, Safdar twice received the Ohio Tennis Coaches’ Association Golden Racquet Award for earning varsity letters in tennis and maintaining a GPA of 3.75 or higher.
Caroline Ryba of Glenview, Ill. is a three-time Central Suburban League Conference champion representing Glenbrook South High School. As a junior, she went 24-0 to claim the top seed at the IHSA State tournament and earn all-state honors. She was also GSHS’s Team MVP in her final three years and was a team captain as a senior.
Ryba, who has been a USTA Junior year-round competitor since the age of 10, has won five USTA Midwest designate events and is currently ranked third in Chicago and No. 6 in the Midwest Region for 18U girls. She vaulted as high as No. 1 in Chicago from 2008-10. Currently, tennisrecruiting.net ranks her as the No. 68 senior in the nation and the No. 10 player in the Great Lakes Region.
Also a standout in the classroom, Ryba earned the Glenbrook South Science Department Academic Excellence Award for outstanding performance in biology, honors chemistry, honors physics, and AP chemistry during freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years, respectively.
“I felt strongly that the University of Minnesota could, and should compete in recruiting the top players nationally and specifically this year in the Midwest,” Merzbacher said. “Our university and program was well received in the recruiting process. There is a real excitement for what we can do here and the opportunity to put Gopher women’s tennis on the map.”
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