Fahey’s tenacity on display after slow start to 2019

Monday, January 21, 2019 - 8:23pm

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Max Kuang/Daily

Kate Fahey might have many attributes, accolades and awards to her name, but the senior Michigan women’s tennis player is arguably best defined by her determination to win.

This was clear during a disappointing 6-1 doubles loss with senior Brienne Minor at the Michigan Invitational on Saturday. Fahey’s frustration with her play, even slamming her racket on the court at one point, was obvious as the 15th-ranked pair struggled to stay competitive with a lower-ranked opponent.

“It was tough,” Fahey said. “They’re a good team but I think Bri and I definitely needed to compete better.”

Fahey, the third-ranked singles player in the country, had the opportunity to put the loss behind her with a win against an unranked opponent in Tennessee senior Sadie Hammond. While she was looking forward to coming back focused and ready to compete, Fahey quickly fell behind 0-3 in the first set.

“The first match of the season, I think everyone was a little bit nervous, especially coming out of doubles,” Fahey said. “The momentum was kind of on the other side.”

While some players may not have been able to overcome the early deficit, Fahey’s motivation to come back and win the match was clear. Her early struggles did not get in her head, and she continued to compete, tying the set 3-3 and eventually going on to lose a hard-fought set 6-7. Despite losing the set, Fahey shook off her early failures and returned to her typically dominant play, winning the final two sets and only dropping two games combined over that span.

“It was a tough first set and she let it go, and mentally was tough from the start of the second,” said Michigan coach Ronnie Bernstein. “So I think that’s the difference. She could’ve, after that first set, struggled a little bit mentally and not been positive, but I think that’s what turned it around.”

As Fahey’s play improved, so did her attitude. Her screams of “Come on!” after each point went from ones of frustration to motivation, getting louder as the points got bigger and keeping her focused on the task at hand.

“I’m a super competitive person,” Fahey said. “I definitely express my emotions a lot, everyone knows that. I think it helps me kind of because when I get within myself and I kind of shut down it definitely brings my level down. So I like to yell ‘Come on!’ I like to get pumped up.”

Added Bernstein: “When you have her on your side you’re in good shape. She’s the best competitor.”

Fahey finished the tournament 3-0 in singles with wins in straight sets on Sunday and Monday, and 1-2 in doubles.

The final chapter of Fahey’s storied Michigan career has just begun, and Fahey just might be ready to lead the team to places it has never been.