After winning five straight matches over the course of the weekend and claiming the first set, 6-3, against her Tennessee opponent, sophomore Kate Fahey was one set away from taking the singles title in the women’s tennis Michigan Invitational. But when the second set began, Fahey fell behind, 1-4, and started to get frustrated.
Then, after fending off two potential set points, Fahey was able to make a comeback, taking six of the next seven games to win the match, 6-3, 7-5.
According to Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein, this tenacious style of play demonstrates Fahey’s attitude on the court, which she described as a “competitive fire”.
“If you see her on the court, she’s pretty feisty and in your face,” Bernstein said.
Fire seems to be a fitting way to describe Fahey’s performance this weekend, as she brought the heat in the Michigan Invitational, sweeping both the singles and doubles titles. No. 14 Michigan faced No. 22 Arizona State, DePaul and Tennessee in its last tournament before dual matches and team results begin.
This weekend’s results cap off Fahey’s exceptional individual-scoring season, as she had a 9-4 singles run in the fall, earning her the No. 20 ranking by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Additionally, Fahey won the ITA Midwest Regional Singles Championship in October.
Fahey shined in doubles competition too. Along with junior Alex Najarian, the fourth-ranked pair dominated, winning their matches 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3, en route to the doubles title.
The two have consistently proven to be a dynamic duo this season, together taking the ITA Midwest Regional Championship title and winning all but one match played in combination this fall.
“She and Alex really complement each other in doubles,” Bernstein said. “They are feeling comfortable and confident together.”
This weekend, Fahey started her winning streak right away, earning a 6-1 doubles victory over the Volunteers in the first day of play at the invitational. She and Najarian capitalized on an early 4-0 lead to take home the Wolverines’ lone doubles win of the day. Fahey went on to defeat her Blue Demons opponent in straight sets, breaking serve in the final game to win 6-2, 6-4.
Day two was a continuation of Fahey’s superiority, beginning with a 6-2 triumph over DePaul in the doubles match. Following this, Fahey routed her Sun Devils opponent 6-2, 6-1 in singles, putting her at a 4-0 undefeated streak for the weekend.
Sealing the deal with an ace down the middle of the court, Fahey won her third doubles match with Najarian, 6-3, on the final day of play, defeating Arizona State and securing the doubles title for the weekend. To wrap up her perfect weekend, Fahey then defeated Tennessee senior Brittany Lindl for the singles title as well.
Michigan’s victories were not limited to Fahey’s, as many Michigan players had near-perfect weekends. Najarian went 6-0 on the weekend as well, and sophomore Brienne Minor, junior Mira Ruder-Hook and freshman Chiara Lommer went 3-0, 2-1 and 2-1 in singles, respectively. Fahey viewed spending time with her team after a long break and the team’s overall results as more important than her individual successes.
“It was really good to be with the team again, I honestly didn’t think about individual results,” Fahey said. “I just had fun with everyone around me.”
As the Wolverines look ahead to two weeks from now when they face Denver, their scoring will be based off team performance and not individual results, so the team player sentiments will become increasingly more important. Bernstein noted how she expects Fahey’s attitude to continue to positively impact the team.
“She works hard and wants to do well for her team,” Bernstein said. “She’s really starting to step up.”