Unseeded Minor clinches National Championship
After sending a backhand crosscourt, Brienne Minor watched her opponent’s return sail long and she threw up her racket in celebration.
It had been a whirlwind week for the sophomore on her way to becoming the NCAA tennis singles champion.
"It feels amazing, I'm still soaking it all in,” Minor said in a press conference after the match. “When I threw my racket at the end of the match I just felt this wave of relief because I was just so happy I could get that win. I was super tired, so I was excited to let that racket go and just be done with the match.”
Entering the tournament unseeded didn’t seem to phase Minor. Once the Michigan women’s team had been eliminated from the team competition, Minor and her teammate sophomore Kate Fahey both entered the singles tournament. While they both made historic runs — both being the first Wolverines to make it to the quarterfinals — it was Minor who walked away with the title.
Her path to a national championship wasn’t easy. The 24th-ranked sophomore had to battle passed six opponents — including three in the top 15 — on her way to the title. After winning her first round match in three sets, Minor seemed to breeze through the rest of the tournament. She won four of the preceding five matches all in two sets, including the championship.
The semifinal matchup against Vanderbilt’s No. 15 Sydney Campbell didn’t initially go Minor’s way. She dropped the first set in a tiebreaker after rallying back from a 4-1 deficit, but stormed back and took the second set, 7-5, on a double fault from Campbell. From then on it was Minor’s match to win and she dominated the third set, 6-0.
With a national championship on the line, Minor was set to face Florida’s No. 6 Belinda Woolcock. It was a surprise to many, herself included, that Minor had made it this far in the tournament.
The Gators had already claimed the team title and Woolcock seemed poised to take the singles crown as well.
That's until Minor opened the championship match by winning the first four games.
Braced with a lead, Minor cruised to a 6-3 win in the first set, and the second set wasn’t much different. Woolcock kept the score closer in the second set, but Minor won a crucial game when she was up 4-3 to put her within one game of winning the set, as opposed to being tied at four.
With Minor one game away from clinching the second set, she broke Woolcock’s serve and clinched a 6-3 win.
It was a record-breaking season for Minor. Not only is she the first player in program history to win a national championship, but she also garnered her second All-American honor and she joins just six other Wolverines to have a 30-win season.
Minor finished the season with a 32-6 record, and with a national championship under her belt and still two years remaining at Michigan, the future appears bright for the sophomore.
"I just feel so honored to represent such a great school,” Minor said. “I love Michigan and I'm so glad I committed here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”