Comebacks in singles matches were not enough to stop Florida’s aggressive play in the Michigan women’s tennis team’s final non-conference match of the season.
On Thursday afternoon, No. 14 Michigan (13-5 overall, 9-0 Big Ten) took on No. 23 Florida (11-9 overall, 7-5 SEC) at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla. The Wolverines, the top team in the Big Ten, were unable to claim the victory, losing, 4-3, and ending their eight-match win streak.
Michigan seniors Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor competed in their ninth doubles match together and battled Florida’s Victoria Emma and McCartney Kessler. After being down 3-0, they brought the match back to 5-4. But the Gators proved to be too much, handing Fahey and Minor their first doubles loss together, 6-4.
Michigan’s three points came from singles victories from Fahey, Minor and sophomore Alyvia Jones. Fahey won a close first set, 6-4, against Ida Jarlskog and continued her success in the second set, winning 6-0. This victory gave Fahey her third-straight season with 30 wins and added to her outstanding 0.815 career win percentage and 124-28 record, the best in school history.
Minor won her first set easily by a score of 6-1 and a close second set, 6-4, defeating Emma in singles. Finally, Jones won both the first and second sets, 6-2, against Gator freshman Sydney Berlin.
“Brie and Kate both came out and played the tennis that they’re capable of,” said Michigan associate head coach Teryn Fitch. “It definitely gives the team a lot of confidence going into the rest of the matches even though we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Florida’s Tsveta Dimitrova and Michigan freshman Anca Craciun added to the intensity of the singles matches. Craciun won the first set, 6-2, but dropped the second, 6-2, and ultimately lost the deciding set, 6-1.
Michigan junior Giulia Pairone faced Kessler, winning the first set, 6-2, and losing the second, 7-5. After a back-and-forth deciding set with long rallies, Pairone lost the third set by a score of 6-4, which secured the victory for Florida. Michigan junior Chiara Lommer also played a close match against Florida’s Marlee Zein but failed to claim the victory, losing the first set, 7-5, and the second, 6-1.
“We feel pretty good about doubles but there’s definitely room to improve,” Fitch said. “We put ourselves in a great position today, but, at times, it got pretty tough. Where we are as a team now is much better than where we were four weeks ago, and everybody really does believe in each other, so that’s going to pay off in the postseason.”