After a one month break, the Michigan Women’s tennis team got back into action at the Michigan Invitational.
The No. 16 Wolverines hosted No. 6 Duke, No. 10 Ohio State, and Notre Dame in the three-day event. It was the last non-scoring match of the season, giving the team one more chance to get ready for next weekend when its record will be affected.
Michigan kicked off the weekend with doubles matches vs. the Buckeyes. It was a tough matchup, but sophomores Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller were a bright spot for the Wolverines in a 6-4 win.
“They have good chemistry and their games suit each other well,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “Kari’s a great returner and does a great job from the back of the court setting Jaedan up at the net. So I see that as something we’ll start with and see if we can get that to work.”
The team’s singles matches against the Fighting Irish marked the return of sophomore Gala Mesochoritou, who’s been dealing with an ACL tear. After splitting the first 2 sets, she fell just short against Notre Dame’s Carrie Beckman 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
“It’s huge to have her back out on the court for us and she’s going to do great things but it’s going to take time,” Bernstein said. “This weekend we weren’t expecting her to go out there and crush everybody but just to see her out there is a huge boost for us.”
The Wolverines split 4-4 against the Fighting Irish including dominant singles wins from No. 99 freshman Julia Fliegner and junior Andrea Cerdan. The duo each cruised to victory, winning 6-1, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-2, respectively.
No. 120 junior Nicole Hammond was resilient in her win over Notre Dame’s Yashna Yellayi after dropping the first set. After taking the second and cruising to a 5-0 lead in the third, the match looked just about over. But, Yellayi stormed back to tie it 5-5. Hammond kept her composure and immediately broke serve to swing the momentum back her way. She would hold to win the third set and the match 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Another slate of doubles matches against the Blue Devils meant another impressive win for the Brown and Miller tandem against the No. 60 ranked team of Chloe Beck and Ellie Coleman. Beck and Coleman broke early, but the Wolverines seized control and took the set 6-2.
Michigan would split the other two matches before starting singles against Ohio State. The team rebounded from doubles play the previous day winning 5-of-7.
Fliegner continued her dominance from the first day jumping out to a 6-1, 1-0 lead against the Buckeye’s Madeline Atway before Atway retired due to a back injury. Despite not coming away with a win, Brown had a close three set battle with Ohio State’s Irina Cantos Siemers. Siemers is the No. 6 player in the country and was the highest ranked player at the invitational.
Wrapping up the day for the Wolverines, senior Lanie Van Linge picked up her first singles win of the season against the Buckeye’s Dani Schoenly. Van Linge had a chance to close it out in a second set tiebreak, but didn’t let the loss affect her and took the third set to win 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5.
The third day didn’t start off great for Michigan, but the players didn’t let their individual results affect their passion for the team.
“We talk about it’s not just results and winning and losing,” Bernstein said. “If you look at our program we’re about kids that care a lot and compete hard and I think you saw that.”
Hammond and senior Anca Craciun picked up the Wolverines’ sole doubles win of the day against the Fighting Irish. They fell behind 3-4, but rattled off three straight games to take it 6-4.
Duke rolled out some of their toughest players for singles. The heavyweight match between the Wolverine’s No. 17 Kari Miller and the Blue Devil’s No. 15 Chloe Beck didn’t disappoint. Miller got off to a strong start with a dominant 6-2 first set win, but Beck soon settled in. Miller’s power was completely neutralized with Beck’s consistent slicing. As the points got longer it only helped Beck’s rhythm and she cleaned up the match 6-1, 6-1 in the final sets.
As the dust settled, Jaedan Brown remained the last player on the court. After splitting the first two sets, it looked like Michigan could fall to 0-3 for singles on the day when Duke’s Kelly Chen took a 3-0 lead in the third.
The entire Wolverine roster stood on the adjacent court and got as loud as possible every time Brown won a point.
She was able to swing the momentum back and take the next three games. After a clutch break at 4-4, Brown served with a chance to close out the match. She took a 40-15 lead and hammered a serve to Chen’s forehand. The ball sailed long and Michigan ended the weekend with a walkoff win.
“This weekend was a great opportunity against some great competition,” Bernstein said. “… These were some of the top teams this weekend. If we play hard and we play for each other we’re going to have a successful season.”