Before every match, Minorka Miranda bends down, ties her left shoe and then her right. She does it the same way every time — Miranda admits she is superstitious, but it gives her peace of mind.

It’s a little moment that makes her feel better, something she recalled starting during a rough freshman season when Maryland women’s tennis had just one conference win.

The next year, the team upped its conference win total to six while breaking the program’s single-season win record with 18. Miranda has been an integral part of the program’s rise.

Entering College Park as a freshman, the Georgia native and two-time International Tennis Federation doubles title holder had a hard pill to swallow. She was not coming into a program that was winning games — she was brought in to change its direction.

“[Coach Katie Dougherty] said she wanted people that were going to build the program and kind of turn it around,” Miranda said. “She’s always had that vision for what the team can be and what we can achieve.”

Miranda’s transition to Maryland was turbulent. She went from a winning program in high school to a team that struggled mightily in her first season.

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The Terps’ only conference win in the 2020-21 season came over the Indiana Hoosiers on the road in a 4-3 victory. The constant defeat became frustrating, but Miranda said the support from her parents helped her to keep working. Miranda also knew her strong work ethic would eventually pay off.

Miranda’s first season soon came to a close, but her journey at Maryland was just beginning. The next year saw lots of change.

One of the new faces included current assistant coach Marta Perez Mur. Perez Mur played her first four years at the University of Texas, a nationally ranked program. Like Miranda, Perez Mur also had to buy into Maryland, and found satisfaction in being able to turn the program around.

Gaining confidence in the off-season with non-conference matches helped the team gain comfortability.

“It wasn’t until we started getting those Big Ten wins. And we’re like, ‘Oh wow, we can actually do this,” Miranda said. “We want more of this. “

And then, the Terps made program history. On April 28, 2022, Maryland once again beat Indiana, but this time in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. It was the Terps’ 18th win of the season, breaking the program record.

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Miranda and Perez Mur won their doubles match that day, 6-2. Miranda won her singles matches as well, 6-0 and 6-4.

“I think we were more focused on the process of it rather than the actual goal,” Miranda said.

Last season, Maryland went 17-9 and had five wins in conference play, and also made it to the second round of the Big Ten tournament. This season, the Terps have 16 total wins and six conference victories.

Miranda has seen the program’s growth coincide with her own. Miranda was the number three player in the team’s lineup last season against Indiana, while this year she was the second singles player and first doubles player.

“[She’s] playing ridiculously good tennis,” Perez Mur said. “I don’t know, it just brings me a lot of joy.”

As Miranda finishes out her senior season, it’s the lessons she has learned through her college career that made her the team leader she is now.

“What I’m really telling [freshmen] is you can achieve more than you think,” Miranda said. “I want to offer that support that I kind of wish I heard my freshman year.”