A palpable energy surrounded court two of the Varsity Tennis Center on Friday night as senior Brienne Minor turned the tides of a hard-fought match against Baylor freshman Paula Baranaño.
After falling behind 4-2 in the first set, Minor stormed back to win 7-5 and continued her momentum into the second set, as she hit precise shot after precise shot while winning the first five games en route to a 6-3 set victory.
“I just talked to (Michigan) coach (Ronni Bernstein) about it, and I think I just kinda got pissed at how bad I was playing,” Minor said. “I kinda just thought you know what, I just need to stay in this set and do what I can. I don’t know, something just clicked. I started coming to the net more, and I love getting to the net more than the baseline. I just tried to get to the net every point.”
Minor’s strong performance was one of many, as the No. 21 Michigan women won the match 7-0 against an incomplete Baylor team. Although the Bears did not have a full lineup, limiting the meaning of such a lopsided result, it is still an encouraging sign of things to come for the Wolverines with a big match coming up on Mar. 9 against Duke.
“We take every match one match at a time, and it’s a really good opportunity against Duke,” Minor said. They’re a great team, but I think our team is good down the line, so we can definitely compete with them and hopefully take them.”
Minor certainly has reason to believe in her teammates given that they did not drop a set throughout the whole match. While Minor battled with Baranaño, junior Lera Patiuk stepped up in her first dual-match opportunity of the season, winning her match 6-1, 6-0. Junior Chiara Lommer and freshman Anca Craciun took 6-4, 6-2 and 6-3, 6-0 victories, respectively. Despite its limiting nature, the absence of a full slate allowed opportunities for players to gain valuable experience, most notably Patiuk getting her first dual-match action of the season and Craciun getting important match time as a freshman.
“(It was) good to get Lera a match and Anonca too,” Bernstein said. “… It’s hard when the other team only has four. It felt weird out there. … I’m just proud of the way we handled it, and I think we did a good job taking care of business.”
Michigan seems to be one united force moving forward, something that is both an auspicious indicator of the direction it is headed and an indication of what it has been working on.
“We’re just trying to play as a team, and not individually,” Minor said, “and just find our identity in that way.”