Fall tennis continued for Michigan in Sarasota, Fla. this weekend, as a few members of the women’s tennis team traveled for the Lakewood Ranch Invite.
Because the competitions in the fall don’t count towards the team record, or any record for that matter, the tournaments tend to be looked at as a way to see a team’s character and potential, a chance for the team dynamic to set in and an opportunity for players to get more comfortable in their roles.
All four members of the Michigan team who made the trip participated in singles and doubles competition, but with varying results.
Junior Bella Lorenzini reached the second round of the singles main draw, but fell to Auburn’s Georgia Axon (6-1, 6-3) to move to consolation action. Lorenzini ended with a 2-2 singles record on the weekend.
Sophomores Anca Craciun and Lanie Van Linge also got more tournament competition experience.
Craciun picked up a rollercoaster singles win that ended in tiebreakers in consolation action against Appalachian State’s Maria Zacarias (7-6 (7), 1-6, 1-0 (4)) after losing to South Florida’s Alexandria Mjos in straight sets (6-2, 6-4).
Van Linge fell in straight sets to Virginia Tech’s Natalie Novotnain the first round of singles play.
Both doubles pairs – freshman Nicole Hammond/Craciun and Van Linge/Lorenzini – fell in their respective opening matches, eliminating them from further doubles competition.
Hammond, however, made a statement this weekend in winning the backdraw singles championship.
The freshman, still getting her feet wet in collegiate tennis, came back from her first-round loss to Appalachian State’s Sandra Anglesjo (7-6 (5), 6-2) to win the next four straight and claim the backdraw title for the weekend.
After going undefeated in singles at the Wolverine Invitational and going 2-1 in singles at ITA Midwest Championships, Hammond is starting to learn her role and hit her stride before the regular season starts.
“I kind of learned to be playing not just for myself, but for the team,” Hammond said. “Because I know that if I played by myself, like, individually at a different tournament, to be honest, I wouldn’t be more motivated.
“But since I know I’m playing for more than myself, I have more motivation. Because I know I’m winning for my teammates, as well.”
Despite it being a relatively low-stakes tournament, the Wolverines are playing for something – the team, themselves and their own development.
With the loss of two powerhouse seniors – Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor – to graduation, Hammond and classmate Andrea Cerdan, who has also impressed in her debut at Michigan, are taking strides in filling the void.
As for this weekend?
“Just gonna take it away as a little bit of confidence,” Hammond said. “Just matches under my belt.”