Michigan earns two tough victories at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships

By Jason Rubinstein, For the Daily
Published February 10, 2013

This past weekend, the No. 16 Michigan women’s tennis team made its fourth appearance at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships held in Charlottesville, Va. The Wolverines, three-time reigning Big Ten champions, knew that hard work and consistent play would be needed in order to succeed.

“It’s a great honor,” said Michigan head coach Ronni Bernstein. “We are here with the top-16 teams in the country. It’s playing against the best and it makes us better by doing that.”

Michigan kicked off the tournament Friday against the tournament’s fifth seed, California, but the results were disappointing.

The Wolverines lost the doubles point in a close battle. The point came down to the No. 1 match between Michigan’s No. 21 junior Brooke Bolender and sophomore Emina Bektas versus California’s Zsofi Susanyi and Klara Fabikova. Bolender and Betkas were narrowly edged in a tiebreaker, losing 7-8. The Wolverines’ lone victory came from senior Mimi Nguyen and freshman Amy Zhu, who defeated California’s Kelly Chui and Cecilia Estlander, 8-5. This marks the third consecutive match Michigan has dropped the doubles point.

“We were up a break on two different occasions,” Bektas said. “I think there were a few little things we could have done better like getting first serves in and making those easy volleys. However, I definitely think we learned from it.”

California took the momentum into the singles play, earning three quick victories — allowing no Wolverine wins — and ultimately earning the team victory, 4-0.

“We probably didn’t play as well as we could,” Bernstein said. “We had some shots in the doubles point and let it get away from us. And in singles, some spots we could have played better.”

After Friday’s tough loss to California, the Wolverines were paired against No. 12 Virginia.

Michigan responded quickly to Friday’s loss by earning the doubles point in a convincing manner. Bolender and Bektas put on a show at the No. 1 spot, upsetting Virginia’s 10th-ranked pair of Stephanie Nauta and Li Xi, 8-2.

“We definitely came out stronger and stayed on top of them,” Bektas said.

Michigan carried its positive energy into the singles play, which was displayed by the Wolverines taking four of the first six sets.

Reigning Big Ten Athlete of the Week, freshman Ronit Yurovsky, displayed her dominance by upsetting No. 44 Li Xi, 6-1, 6-2.

Virginia went on to take the next two matches, but the Cavaliers’ momentum ended when Zhu defeated Hana Tomljanovic, 6-2, 6-4. Minutes later, sophomore Sarah Lee pulled off a nail biter at the No. 5 spot, edging Virginia’s Maci Epstein, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6. Lost in all of these crazy matches was the inability of No. 4 Julia Elbaba to take down Bektas, 5-7, 7-5, 4-3, unfinished.

“One of our biggest philosophies is to stay out on the court, because it really helps everyone else on our team and gives them confidence,” Bektas said. “I just did what I could to stay out there and believe that I could win.”

After Saturday’s 4-2 win over Virginia, the Wolverines took on Vanderbilt.

Michigan started the meet strong, earning the doubles point. The Wolverines earned victories from the top-two spots.

“It is a matter of being aggressive and stepping up and not letting people come at you,” said Bernstein. “We were fortunate for the last two to win the doubles point, but they were super close, but we played super well in the big points.”

The Wolverines took their momentum into the singles play by quickly earning victories from Lee over Vanderbilt’s Georgina Sellyn, 6-0, 6-3 and Bolender over Marie Casares, 6-2, 6-2. Bektas secured the victory for Michigan beating Vanderbilt’s Lauren Mira, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. The Wolverines ultimately beat the Commodores, 4-2.

“We got two victories here, and I think two really quality ones,” Bernstein said.