Facing top teams like Vanderbilt, Georgia and UCLA, the Michigan women’s tennis team had its first real opportunity to gauge its competition and itself, and they didn’t appear to be up to the challenge.
The results from the four-day Women’s Collegiate Classic in Malibu were mixed. The Wolverines started strongly with wins in Thursday’s first round matches. Freshman Andrea Cerdan edged out No. 15 Christina Rosca of Vanderbilt in a close match, taking two of three sets by a slim margin, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. While Cerdan stumbled in the second round — losing two consecutive sets 6-2 — the freshman’s ability to win against highly-ranked players makes her an integral part of Michigan’s program as the season goes on.
Junior Alyvia Jones and senior Giulia Pairone also had solid wins on day one but neither could translate these victories into momentum. Jones and Pairone had very similar performances in the second round, each losing the first set by a large deficit and narrowly losing the second, 7-5. With these losses, the Wolverines spent the rest of the weekend playing consolation games in which they lost nine out of 12 matches.
“We definitely need to get better,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “We need to get fitter.”
Michigan didn’t fare much better in doubles match play. Jones and Cerdan won handily against a Stanford duo, 6-1, but fell in the second round, 6-2, to California. Similarly, Pairone and senior Chiara Lommer beat San Diego only to be bested by California in the following round.
“It was a long weekend and it showed on Sunday, where I didn’t think we were at our best,” Bernstein said. “It was our first trip (this year) and the first trip for (Cerdan). Definitely by the end of the week, they looked a little drained. We had a couple of kids who were taking exams on the road and taking more exams (Monday). That is always challenging.”
This weak performance may be a byproduct of the Wolverines’ transition to playing on the road. Last weekend, Michigan came away from the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor with twelve singles and five doubles wins.
Whatever the cause, Bernstein is far from discouraged. She views the weekend as the first data point in a long season.
“I wanted to see how we match up,” Bernstein said. “You have 12 teams and probably eight of them are top-10 teams. We brought some of our top players there to see where we are at this stage, early October.
“Clearly, we need to get better. Results-wise, we weren’t there. It is not always about results and we have a few months to clean some things up before we start dual matches.”