Michigan wins big in rivalry game, 4-1

Sunday, March 31, 2019 - 10:02pm

The U-M Varsity Tennis Center crowd helped propel Senior Brienne Minor and the Michigan women's tennis team to victory.

The U-M Varsity Tennis Center crowd helped propel Senior Brienne Minor and the Michigan women's tennis team to victory. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

From the stands, a strong cry came out: 

“GO!!!!”

Unanimously, Michigan faithful responded,

“BLUE!!!!”

Again, the chant rang. 

The packed arena, reduced to standing-room-only during the doubles matches, erupted into applause as the final serve came from Ohio State. All eyes were on the No. 2 doubles pair Giulia Pairone and Anca Craciun as they delivered the emphatic slam that secured the doubles point for Michigan. 

A fight to the finish, the duo embraced as they were approached by the rest of their team.

The Michigan Varsity Tennis Center was raucous, resilient and absolutely electric, perfectly mirroring the performance of the Wolverines.

Senior Brienne Minor had only one word to describe the atmosphere:

“Unbelievable.”

The Wolverines (11-4 overall, 7-0 Big Ten) defeated the 19th-ranked Buckeyes (15-2, 4-1), 4-1 to extend their win streak to six matches. 

Along with the exhilarating performance from the No. 2 pairing, Pairone and Craciun, the Wolverines secured their first point with a dominant 6-3 victory from senior duo Minor and Kate Fahey. 

Nothing came easy for Michigan on Sunday. Taking the momentum from the doubles win and using the cheers from the crowd, the Wolverines rallied through their singles matches to come out victorious. 

“(Ohio State is) fighting, too, and competing, and it’s, you know, who’s going to be toughest and want it a little bit more,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “And in the pressured moments, I think we did a good job today. That’s the difference.”

Junior Chiara Lommer put Michigan on the brink of a match victory behind a 6-4, 7-5 win. With both sets constantly in ties, Lommer eventually overpowered Ohio State’s Shiori Fukuda for a statement Wolverine point. 

Both Pairone and Minor took their first sets by considerable margins — 6-4 and 6-2, respectively — and then came back from a 5-2 deficit in their second sets to carry them to victory. 

As Pairone sent the ball back over the net and the Buckeye return went straight into it, she screamed and celebrated. With her win, she gave Michigan the final point to seal its victory.

“In tennis, there are always ups and downs,” Pairone said. “So during the downs, you need to stay always positive. I was 5-2 down in the second set and (Michigan assistant head coach) Teryn (Ashley-Fitch) is always telling me ‘Stay positive and keep doing what you’re doing.’ I was doing the right things but I couldn’t finish the points, so I kept believing in myself and kept doing the same things, and in the end, it turned out very well.”

Aside from pure skill and energetic coaches, who do the Wolverines have to credit for their victories?

The crowd. 

“I think with a big crowd like this, I even told Kate during our doubles match, ‘the crowd was so electric right now,’” Minor said. “It’s pumping me up and getting me so hyped and that gives us positive energy.”