Women’s tennis handles Michigan State in first Big Ten game, wins 6-1

Sunday, February 3, 2019 - 3:59pm

Sophomore Bella Lorenzini was part of the doubles pair that crushed Michigan State's hopes to break a 19-match unbeaten streak.

Sophomore Bella Lorenzini was part of the doubles pair that crushed Michigan State's hopes to break a 19-match unbeaten streak. Buy this photo
Max Kuang/Daily

The final doubles pair was playing, and Michigan State was tied with Michigan in women’s tennis. If there was any hope for the Spartans to win their matchup against the Wolverines, this was it.

They needed that first point. Sophomore Bella Lorenzini and junior Chiara Lommer had let a 4-1 lead over their Spartan counterparts go — it was the only match going on in the building, and it was tied at 4-4. Lommer and Lorenzini crushed Michigan State’s hopes.

The No. 13 Michigan women’s tennis team (3-1 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) efficiently beat in-state rival Spartans (3-2, 0-1) Saturday 6-1, extending its winning streak against the Spartans to 19.

The day didn’t start as well as the Wolverines hoped, squeaking out the doubles point 2-1. The No. 1 pair, senior Kate Fahey — ranked third nationally in singles — and junior Giulia Pairone took care of business by winning 6-3, but the No. 2 pair of sophomore Alyvia Jones and senior Brienne Minor saw their attempt to come back from a 3-0 deficit fall short, losing 6-4 despite briefly being even at 4-4.

That was when Lorenzini and Lommer won their match, 6-4, to gift Michigan’s first point of the night.

“The doubles are going to be tight, and I was really happy with three (Lorenzini and Lommer),” said Wolverines coach Ronni Bernstein. “They played a really aggressive game to close it. It’s good to get that point, if we don’t get that point it’s a little more pressure on the singles.”

After the drama of the doubles, though, the Wolverines found their footing, quickly winning four of the first sets in singles. Pairone and Jones were left battling it out at the No. 2 spot and No. 6 six spot, respectively, though.

Jones won every game she served, but so did her counterpart Davina Nguyen. The sophomore came to life in the 6-6 tiebreaker, finally figuring out how to return Nguyen’s serves effectively and won the set.

Pairone struggled initially with her match up against Samantha Memije — going down 2-0 — but came roaring back and won 7-5.

“I think we did a really good job on singles,” Bernstein said. “We won every first set, and that obviously puts Michigan State’s backs against the wall, and we were able to come through.”

Lommer, in the No. 4 spot, was the first to finish her match, crushing her singles opponent 6-1, 6-1. Minor similarly dominated, winning the No. 3 spot by a score of 6-1, 6-3. Fahey clinched the Wolverines a victory with her 6-3, 6-4 win at the No. 1 spot.

The Spartans were unable to battle back against Michigan after the first sets finished. Pairone and Jones, who barely won their first set, decisively won their second sets 6-1 and 6-0, respectively, hardly ever letting their opponents come back into a single game.

The only sore spot for the Wolverines, though, was at the No. 5 spot, where freshman Anca Craciun went 6-3, 3-6, and then lost a tiebreaker for the match.

“Any time you play Michigan State it’s a big match,” Bernstein said. “It’s our first Big Ten match, and I was happy to get through it.”