The No. 6 Michigan women’s tennis team is undefeated when it wins the doubles point this season. The Wolverines added to that streak on Saturday, taking the doubles point in its first conference matchup en route to blanking Michigan State by a score of 4-0.
“I’m happy with our doubles,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “Last year, we struggled a little bit. I feel like we’ve turned that around and worked on that a lot. So obviously, getting the first point in the match was huge for us.”
For much of the season, the Wolverines’ doubles success has come behind strong performances from the No. 2 ranked doubles team of juniors Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller.
However, against the Spartans, Brown did not play — forcing Michigan to alter its doubles lineups and pair Miller with senior Nicole Hammond instead. The other doubles pairings consisted of freshman Lily Jones and sophomore Julia Fliegner on court no. 1 and senior Andrea Cerdan and junior Merri Kelly on court no. 3. The change forced the Wolverines to adjust on the fly, as Brown’s status was a game-time decision.
“Kari has played with Nicole before; last year they played a little together and (they played together) three years ago,” Bernstein said. “So they had familiarity together … you just get them to try and complement each other.”
That familiarity paid off for Michigan, as Hammond and Miller were the first match off the court in a commanding 6-2 victory. Their win kickstarted the Varsity Tennis Center crowd, which cheered raucously for Cerdan and and Kelly as they came back from a 1-3 deficit to take the match. Cerdan and Kelly broke to make the score 2-3 and then held 3-3 without dropping a point on their way to a 6-4 victory in a match that won Michigan the doubles point.
“It’s a little bit of confidence,” Bernstein said. “(When) we start off by winning the doubles point, they get confident. It’s not that we can’t win four points, but I felt really confident against anybody if we can get the doubles point. So it takes a little pressure off.”
While it may take the pressure off, it also exerts a toll on the players. Cerdan, despite winning her first set 6-3, pointed to the doubles set as a factor in her play.
“On the first set, I felt like I was playing it safe,” Cerdan said, “I wasn’t really playing my game aggressively. I think that just came from a really tight doubles match.”
The 6-3 set was the only spot of daylight for Cerdan’s opponent Juliette Nask on Saturday, as Cerdan bounced back with a dominant 6-0 second set to take the match.
“In the second set, I stepped up; I played my game,” Cerdan said. “I wasn’t feeling nervous at all anymore. I was just gonna roll through it.”
Michigan’s team as a whole rolled through the match with a confidence befitting their top-ten ranking. And, jump started by their doubles point victory, it wasn’t long before the maize-clad Varsity Tennis Center crowd was cheering a 4-0 victory for their Wolverines.