BY NITAI LEVE
For the Daily
Published February 22, 2012
The Michigan women's tennis team opened its 2012 Big Ten campaign with a sweep over rival Michigan State in East Lansing on Wednesday.
The Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 6-3 overall) started and ended strong, dominating Michigan State (0-1, 6-2) in both the doubles and singles competitions.
“This is a good start. It feels good to get our first Big Ten win of the season,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein.
Michigan started its doubles competition with an 8-2 victory by the freshman-sophomore duo of Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender. The Wolverines clinched their first point of the match when senior Michelle Sulahian and junior Mimi Nguyen won 8-4.
Bolender, ranked No. 56, captured the second point for Michigan when she won her singles bout in straight sets.
No. 5 Bektas remained undefeated on the season when she defeated Spartan junior Nicole Herzog in straight sets to capture Michigan’s third point.
Bektas has been playing at a very high level over the duration of the season, moving up in the national rankings from No. 36 to No. 5 over the course of only a month. Bernstein does not think that has effected Bektas’s mindset though.
“Bektas is a great team player, and I don’t think she’s too focused on her ranking.” Bernstein added “She’s working on stuff in practice. She’s gaining confidence with every game she plays.”
Freshman Sarah Lee, who was moved up to the third spot in singles last week in the ITA tournament against Georgia, remained undefeated on the season with a win to clinch the match.
Wednesday's appearance at the third spot in singles was just Lee's second time in that position, as she normally contributes from the fourth spot.
“She has shown that she can compete in different spots, and I have a lot of faith in her,” Bernstein said.
That flexibility in handling positions is very useful to Bernstein, who added: “I like to move the lineup around.”
Sophomore Sam Critser won in her return to singles play. Out since October with a knee injury, Critser returned to doubles last week in the ITA Tournament.
“It feels great to be back on the court. I still have a little to work on, but right now it’s all building my confidence back and working on hitting the shots I’m used to hitting,” Critser said.
Senior Michelle Sulahian and freshman Kristen Dodge rounded out the sweep with victories of their own.
The Wolverines have shown a lot of promise through their sixth win of the season. With big wins against then-No. 15 Clemson and then-No. 18 Vanderbilt, the Wolverines look like they will be fierce competitors down the stretch.
The Wolverines will play their first outdoor match of the season when they take on Hawaii in Honolulu on March 3.