Michigan tops Fresno State, falls to USC in NCAA Regionals

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By Nathaniel Clark, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 11, 2014

All good things must eventually come to an end.

Such was the case for the Michigan women’s tennis team (11-0 Big Ten, 22-5 overall) this weekend, as the Wolverines snapped their streak of four straight Sweet 16 appearances. After routing Fresno State, 4-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wolverines came up short against USC, 4-2.

“USC is a great team,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “It’s tough to go on the road and win.”

But that’s exactly what the Wolverines did Friday against the Bulldogs (5-0 Mountain West, 16-9 overall). They quickly took the doubles point courtesy of wins by the duos of sophomore Ronit Yurovsky and freshman Laura Ucros, 8-2, and junior Sarah Lee and sophomore Amy Zhu, 8-5.

Michigan’s dominance continued into singles play. Junior Emina Bektas got off the court first when she finished off Sophie Watts, 6-3, 6-1. Yurovsky and Ucros clinched the match for the Wolverines shortly thereafter with impressive showings of their own, 6-3, 6-1, and 6-0, 6-2, respectively. All other singles matches were abandoned after Michigan clinched the match.

The Wolverines continued to play well Saturday against the Trojans (7-3 Pac-12, 19-7 overall). The duo of Bektas and senior Brooke Bolender started things off by defeating Giuliana Olmos and Kaitlyn Christian, 8-5. Another 8-5 victory by Lee and Zhu over Zoe Scandalis and Brynn Boren once again gave Michigan the doubles point.

Lee gave the Wolverines a 2-0 lead when she topped Gabriella DeSimone, 6-2. But then USC came storming back as Bolender suffered a rare loss to Olmos, 6-0, 6-3 and Michigan had given up its first point of the weekend.

That was the last time the Wolverines held a lead against the Trojans. Bektas fell to Scandalis, 7-5, 6-4, and Zhu’s 7-5, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Kaitlyn Christian gave USC a 3-2 lead.

This left Michigan’s hopes up to Ucros and Yurovsky. She dropped the first set to Zoe Katz, 6-3, and found herself down, 4-0, in the second set. But Ucros managed to claw her way to a 4-4 tie before ultimately running out of gas and losing 7-5. The Trojans clinched the match with Ucros’ defeat.

Despite the loss to USC, Bernstein praised the Wolverines’ effort this season.

“I’m really proud of this team and what they were able to accomplish this season,” Bernstein said. “They worked so hard all year, and deserved all the success that they had.”

While the team has been knocked out of the NCAA tournament, Bektas, Bolender, and Yurovsky have all been invited to compete at the NCAA individual championships May 21-25, where they’ll have one more chance to leave their mark on this season.