It came down to the finish for Giulia Pairone.
After winning her first match handily in three sets in the ITA Women's All-American Championships, the senior’s questionable decision making, according to Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein, caused her to lose a highly contested three-set match, pulling within one game in the third set only to lose on a break point 6-2, 6-7, 5-7.
“The level was great. If we can get that from her on a consistent basis she would be in good shape,” Bernstein said. “Maybe it’s making a few better decisions, but overall she played a really good match.”
In one of the premier tournaments of their preseason fall schedule, the Wolverines sent two highly ranked seniors Pairone, ranked 47th nationally, and Chiara Lommer, 26th, to California to compete against the best players in the country. Pairone won her first match 6-7, 6-2, 6-2, but she lost her second match. Lommer, the top-ranked player for Michigan, won her first match 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, but lost her second match to the fourth-ranked player in straight sets 2-6, 3-6. Bernstein credited the high level of competition for her players’ losses.
“I think when you go to a tournament like that it’s the top players in the country,” Bernstein said. “The first round matches were tough, (but) the second round Giulia lost a heartbreaker. In the end, it was just (her needing to) come through at the end.”
Regardless of the outcome, Bernstein is impressed with the high level of play shown by both her players. This was one of their first tournaments of the season after not competing in many tournaments over the summer.
“If we can get that from (Pairone) on a consistent level she would be in good shape,” Bernstein said. “It was just a couple of points. Maybe it’s making a few better decisions, but overall she played a really good match.”
Both girls and the rest of the Wolverines are still getting into the swing of things. Big Ten play begins in January, so the whole team is focused on getting ready for that.
Last year, Michigan lost its two leading and best players, seniors Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor. The coaching staff is still feeling out the team early in the season and figuring out who is going to take their place. Thus far, they are very impressed with how Lommer and Pairone have stepped into their roles as seniors on the team.
“They do the right thing,” Bernstein said. “They set good examples in different ways. That is what is so good about a team, you have all these different individuals that all bring something different. (They are) what you want in a student-athlete.”
After moving to America from Italy, Pairone spent her first two years at the University of Arkansas before transferring to Michigan last year. She is hoping to stay consistent in order to compete in a tough Big Ten conference this year.
Bernstein sees this match as a benchmark for the rest of the season. This is only the beginning of a very long season for the Wolverines.
“I don’t think we are where we want to be yet and I think there is a lot of room to grow and get better,” Bernstein said. “The goal is January when we play our first full match. We are getting better and better throughout the year. Just getting these guys (experience) I think is the biggest takeaway.”