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After an extended break, the Michigan Women’s tennis team made its long-awaited return, playing at the Michigan Invitational. 

The No. 22 Wolverines hosted Big Ten opponents No. 13 Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin in the three-day meet. The event was non-scoring, giving players a chance to tune-up for true in-season matchups that begin next weekend without results affecting team records. 

Michigan kicked off Saturday with four doubles matches versus Ohio State. The Wolverines’ doubles tandem of redshirt senior Chiara Lommer and freshman Jaedan Brown set the tone, defeating Ohio State’s No. 42 ranked pairing of Irina Cantos Siemers and Kolie Allen. Lommer and Brown found themselves in an 0-2 hole early, but would not drop a game after that, winning 6-2. 

“Brown is maybe one of our best, and (Lommer) compliments her well,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “I think they’re feeling confident.” 

The Wolverines secured victories in three of the four doubles matches versus the Buckeyes. The success carried over to singles play on Saturday with matchups against Wisconsin and Ohio State, as Michigan won eight of ten matches in that frame. 

The Wolverines’ freshman class highlighted singles action, winning all four matches they took part in. 

Freshman Merri Kelly embodied the promise and poise of Michigan’s newcomers. After dropping her first set 1-6 to Wisconsin’s Charmaine Seah, she found herself in a tiebreaker in set two. With the tiebreaker knotted up at 3-3, Kelly approached the net for a massive forehand winner to take the lead. She went on to win the tiebreaker to take the second set. Kelly secured the third set, played in the form of a tiebreaker, to win. 

Michigan’s No. 71 sophomore Andrea Cerdan cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Wisconsin’s Miruna Tudor to open her season, while No. 101 senior Alyvia Jones was upset by Wisconsin’s Xinyu Cai 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, the first of Jones’s three losses on the weekend.

The Wolverines’ strong start carried over into Sunday, where they began the day winning three of four doubles matches against the Badgers. 

In singles, Michigan matched up against Northwestern, where the Wolverines went 6-2 and the freshman class posted a 4-0 record once again. 

“Our freshman class is as good as any in the country,” Bernstein said. “I see them stepping up and having a huge impact for us this year.” 

Michigan freshman Gala Mesochoritou had the gutsiest performance of the afternoon as she faced the Wildcats’ Christina Hand. After dropping the first set via tiebreaker, she secured set-point, up 6-5. She ripped a big forehand on the run to win the set 7-5 and maintained that momentum into set three, where she opened with a break. On match point, Mesochoritou tracked down a high-lob, and returned it with a powerful spike to win 6-7, 7-5, 6-2.

Northwestern’s No. 57 Julie Byrne, the highest-ranked player in the invitational, defeated Lommer, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, while Cerdan advanced to 2-0 on the year with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win over Caroline Pozo. 

To start the final day of action on Monday, Michigan split a four-match doubles series with Northwestern. Brown and Lommer once again highlighted the doubles matchups, as they upset Northwestern’s No. 47 ranked doubles tandem of Byrne and junior Hannah McColgan, 6-2. An unstoppable serve from Brown, along with the tandem’s stellar play at the net, propelled them to victory.   

The Wolverines sneaked out a 5-4 record over Ohio State in singles to finish out the invitational, but the Buckeyes were able to stifle the undefeated run of Michigan’s freshman class.

Wolverines’ freshman Kari Miller was a bright spot for Michigan on Monday afternoon. Locked in a tiebreaker in set one, Miller worked towards set point. She then stroked a low forehand just over the net, leaving Allen unable to dig it out. Miller took command of the following set, leading to a 7-6, 6-1 victory. 

“This weekend was much needed,” Bernstein said. “We can take some confidence in that first match (against Duke) and feel good where we are.” 

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