Miranda Ramirez’s unconventional childhood helped her thrive immediately at Syracuse

first_img Published on January 23, 2018 at 9:02 pm Contact David: ddschnei@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+ Editor’s note: Prepare yourselves for the spring seasons of Syracuse Athletics with our 2018 season preview series, which will spotlight senior runner Danielle Delgado, next-in-line hurdler David Gilstrap, former freshman tennis standout Miranda Ramirez and Syracuse softball’s sophomore ace, Alexa Romero.Miranda Ramirez did not have a typical childhood. She was homeschooled, played tennis for four to five hours each day, and lived in six different states and France. Rather than scheduling her training sessions around schooling priorities, she scheduled school work around tennis.Because Ramirez sacrificed a normal childhood to further her tennis career, she immediately thrived at Syracuse.“It was a hard decision,” Miranda’s father Santiago Ramirez said about Ramirez’s commitment to tennis. “But we knew it was the right decision for her future.”The freshman ended last season with a team-high 15 singles victories, including a 12-match win streak that spanned over two months. Ramirez dominated in the second singles position, defeating seven of eight opponents, which led to Syracuse head coach Younes Limam installing her as SU’s first singles player. In ten matches at the top of the Orange’s lineup, she tallied five wins, including two against nationally-ranked players.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDespite being forced to play the top players in the ACC, Ramirez took on the challenge and established herself as one of the top young players in the conference. She was able to adapt to the college game much quicker than the average freshman since she routinely competed in international tournaments prior to her arrival at Syracuse. Throughout her childhood, Ramirez and her family were constantly moving in search of the best environment to progress her tennis career.“It was mostly to find really good places to train, good coaches, people I can trust,” Ramirez said about her family’s frequent moves. “It took me all over the world, and I’m very grateful for that.”Courtesy of SU AthleticsRamirez was born in Portland, Oregon and lived there for one year before her family moved to San Antonio. After living in San Antonio for two years, they moved to Kansas for three years and then to Jackson, Mississippi.When Ramirez was five years old, her parents tried to get her involved in all kinds of sports including soccer, karate, dance, gymnastics and basketball. But tennis quickly emerged as Ramirez’s favorite and by the time she was 10 years old, she knew it was the only sport she wanted to invest her time in. Santiago was her first coach and noticed her exceptional talent soon after she started playing.“At age seven, (Miranda) competed in her first tournament which was a Super Series event for (under-10s). She completely dominated the field,” Santiago said. “After the tournament, the director pulled me aside and said ‘Do you know what kind of talent your daughter has?’”After moving to Mississippi when she was six, Ramirez quickly gained success in her tennis career, and by the fifth grade, Ramirez began to take the sport seriously, she said. Whether it was working on her fitness, hitting balls back and forth with a trainer or seeing how long she could keep the ball in the air without letting it hit the ground, she found time each day after school to train.When she was eight, Ramirez moved to North Carolina for more formal coaching. After two years in North Carolina, she moved to Bradenton, Florida with her mother, and started playing competitively within the International Tennis Federation Juniors Circuit.By the time Ramirez was 12 years old, she knew she wanted to make a life out of the sport.Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorBetween Ramirez’s move to North Carolina and her arrival at Syracuse, she was homeschooled. Every day, she woke up around 7 a.m. to study for an hour before training. After a lunch break around noon, she spent an hour on school work before returning to the court for afternoon practice. To test the effectiveness of her homeschool curriculum, Ramirez had to take a state-mandated education exam each year.Ramirez’s dedication to her training soon paid off. By age 15, she started competing in and winning international tournaments. She won eight ITF junior tournaments and peaked at No. 190 in the ITF junior rankings. Domestically, she reached the No. 3 ranking in the Florida Section of the United States Tennis Federation.A year before her eventual enrollment at Syracuse, Ramirez made one last move, to Nice, France.In the years before heading to Europe, she had competed in her first ITF tournament in South America, and continued to participate in tournaments in places like Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Uruguay and Cuba. In these tournaments, she faced European players on a regular basis and was pushed to her limits each time, her father said.Because of the high quality of play among European players, her family decided to send her to France to gain exposure to that higher level of competition.“Miranda had the opportunity to experience different game styles,” Santiago said. “American tennis is about hitting the ball hard and fast. South American tennis is about patience and feel. European tennis is about strategy. She learned how to compete against all types of players.”During an ITF junior tournament in Switzerland in late 2015, Ramirez was discovered by Syracuse associate head coach Shelley George. She was impressed by Ramirez’s play, and the Orange coaching staff decided to scout her further. During the summer of 2016, Limam, SU’s head coach, traveled to Portugal to see Ramirez play in another ITF junior tournament. He immediately knew he wanted her at Syracuse.Limam’s main concern with recruiting Ramirez was that she had become accustomed to training for tennis as her top priority, and if she were to come to Syracuse, she would have to learn how to balance school and tennis again.“We got to spend some time with her and explain how the college system works and if that’s what she wanted to do,” Limam said. “We loved her personality, her work ethic, how committed she was.”When Ramirez arrived at Syracuse at the beginning of the 2017 spring semester, she felt outside her comfort zone. She had to re-assimilate herself with being around other students, enduring longer classes and not having complete control over her schedule.While she had experience against the top junior players in the world, Ramirez did not assume it would lead to success in the college game, she said. When she proceeded to win 12 straight singles matches, she was surprised.“I did not expect it at all,” Ramirez said about her win streak. “I took it one match at a time, and I somehow managed to keep winning.”Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorGoing into her sophomore season, Ramirez and junior teammate Gabriela Knutson will be Syracuse’s top two singles players and make up the No. 1 doubles pairing for the Orange. In the offseason, Ramirez’s main focus was her fitness, as she wanted to make sure she could last through the entire season. She continued to play competitively, too, reaching the singles semifinals at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championship in October 2017.Between living in six different states and France, being homeschooled, and competing in international tennis tournaments as a 15-year-old, Ramirez became the player she is today through sacrifice. Now, she looks to lead Syracuse tennis to its second NCAA Tournament appearance ever.“I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Ramirez said. “It was definitely a sacrifice being away from home, but at the same time, I gained a lot from it.” Commentslast_img