Radu will return to women’s tennis

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | JUNE 30, 2009 7:21 AM

If you ask head coach Daryl Greenan, the Iowa women’s tennis team was able to secure one of its most valuable assets from last season. First-year assistant coach Mira Radu was rehired by the program, albeit in somewhat of a different role — she will be a graduate assistant coach.

“I always wanted to stay because the situation here was so good,” she said. “I just love it.”

It wasn’t that she wanted to leave Iowa. As a native of Romania, she experienced some complications when it came to her immigration status and working in the United States.

“We were trying to find the right way for me to stay without risking my immigration status,” Radu said. “Me being a student is the safest way for me to stay here. It will grant me student status, in which I’ll be legal and safe to be a student and also work with the team at the same time.”

The next step if Radu hadn’t taken the student route would have been applying for an H-1B visa, a work permit that allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers for specialty occupations. The tricky part in that would have been proving that Radu was specialized enough for her job as a tennis coach.

“My educational background did not include any sports-related degrees, so that would have been kind of a long shot for me to apply for that type of visa, trying to become a coach without having any educational background in sports,” Radu said. “I could have been denied, and that would have made things much more complicated.”

Radu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi in 2003. The two-time All-American and academic All-American for the Rebels is both excited and nervous about going back to school.

“Me getting a master’s in the sports-studies department will actually help me become more knowledgeable for my job,” Radu said. “I’m back to school in an area that interests me, so it was the best decision, both for me and the university.”

Greenan is ecstatic to have Radu beginning her second season as a Hawkeye.

“It went so well the first year that we were lucky to have Mira,” he said. “We really wanted to keep her. The girls respond well to her, and she has a passion for [coaching].”

He also understands that she will have a lot more on her plate this year, but he is confident that Radu can handle coaching and taking classes. Being a graduate assistant will help her when applying for a H-1B visa in the future.

“It’s going to take a little bit of her time, but she manages her time well,” Greenan said. “Down the road, she will be able to get that work permit once she gets this degree that she’s worked on.”

The Hawkeyes will return every one of their top six players from last year, but they will still have only one senior in Kelcie Klockenga. Greenan does not underestimate the value of stability when building a top program.

“It was Mira’s first year, so for some of these girls coming into their third year, if we didn’t have Mira back, we would have had a third different assistant,” Greenan said. “That’s not good. It’s important to try to keep that continuity, especially with somebody with the background and knowledge that Mira had.”

Radu’s background is an extensive one. She claimed the Romania national and international championships in 1994. She reached 245th in the Women’s Tennis Association poll and made an appearance in the 1998 U.S. Open. Radu accepted a full scholarship to Ole Miss in 1999 and eventually reached seventh in the NCAA singles rankings.

Greenan was prepared to conduct a search for her replacement, and he had even begun to interview candidates, but his first choice was Radu. They are both pleased to be working together again as they aim to take the program to the next level.

“I’m very glad to be back. I’m very happy,” Radu said. “I had a tough time trying to figure out how I’m going to do it, to be able to stay here and still be able to work with the team. I’m really glad that things worked out.”

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