By Steven Bennett

CORAL GABLES, Fla.  - Despite being in the middle of paradise, there are some schools and communities very close to the University of Miami that have fallen on much harder times because of the faltering economy. One of these schools is nearby Doral Middle School.

On Friday, the women's tennis team will be at Doral Middle to speak to students about staying positive and motivated despite going through hardships. Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews and the team will also speak about the importance of doing well in school and staying on a path toward collegiate success.

Located just nine miles away from the University of Miami campus, the most prestigious in the state of Florida and one of the top 50 universities in the nation, Doral Middle School is currently in its last year of existence. The school will close next year due to a lack of funding.

This lack of funding has presented more immediate problems and issues then the eminent extinction of the school. The school is not offering elective courses for students this year due to budget limitations. Clubs have been cut, too, severely limiting the student's scholastic experience.

Doral Middle School currently does not have a library or computer labs.  At a time when technology is evolving and impacting every aspect of life, the students do not even have access to outdated forms of information. The school recently also had to cut morning announcements because of a lack of funding.

One of the worst parts of this whole issue is that Doral Middle no longer has an athletic program. Sports can be an excellent way for young people to learn the importance of teamwork and responsibility on and off the playing field.

With student-athletes representing six countries, including several players from the Miami area, the women's tennis team has a lot of varied and invaluable experience when it comes to balancing a life of rigorous academics with strenuous athletic expectations.

A week after giving back to the community, the 12th-ranked Miami Hurricanes women's tennis team will look to finish the month of February with a victory over nemesis Florida State at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.