The legendary Brazilian soccer player Pelé once said, “The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”
Freshman Brienne Minor of the Michigan women’s tennis team discovered that wisdom firsthand, as she rallied from a 5-1 hole in her final set to win a singles title over Northwestern’s Maddie Lipp at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships. This was the third consecutive year — and the fourth time in the last five years — that a Wolverine has come away with a singles victory in the tournament.
After Minor erased her deficit and took a 6-5 edge, Lipp won the next game to tie the set at six, which set up a tiebreaker. Minor rose to the occasion, going on a 3-1 run en route to a 7-3 victory to capture the title.
“It was amazing to see (Minor) compete like that,” said Michigan coach Ronnie Bernstein. “I think she just believes in herself and has such a big game where she can win a whole bunch of points in a row.”
Minor dropped the first game of the final set to Lipp, 6-3, but quickly took a 4-0 lead in the second. Lipp found her groove, however, and evened the score at 5-5. The pair split the next two sets before Minor won the tiebreaker, 7-5.
“It was really good tennis for both of them,” Bernstein said. “Both wanted (the match) a lot. (Minor) really hung in there and that was the difference.”
Minor also had a strong doubles performance. She teamed up with sophomore Mira Ruder-Hook to top Ani Gogvadze and Maria Paula Ribero of Eastern Michigan, 8-2. They also defeated Michigan State’s duo of Erin Faulkner and Lexi Baylis, 8-3, before losing, 8-5, in the quarterfinals to Ohio State’s pair of Sandy Niehaus and Ferny Angelez Paz.
“(Minor and Ruder-Hook) complement each other pretty well,” Bernstein said. “I thought they communicated well.”
But Minor was not the only freshman to have an impressive showing. Kate Fahey defeated Michigan State’s Lexi Baylis and Ohio State’s Anna Sanford in two and three sets, respectively. Fahey faltered in the singles play quarterfinals to Lipp.
Ruder-Hook, too, came up with a solid singles performance. She notched wins over Western Michigan’s Melina Lyubomirova, 6-4, 7-5, and Illinois’s Louise Kwong, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 before succumbing to DePaul’s Yuliya Shupenia.
“She’s starting to understand what she needs to do on the court,” Bernstein said. “I was really happy with her performance and how she competed.”
Building on an impressive outing, Michigan still has more tennis to play this fall. The Wolverines will travel to the UNC Invitational Nov. 6-8, before moving onto the ITA National Indoor Championships and the ASU Thunderbird Nov. 13-15.
“I just want (the players) to compete,” Bernstein said. “I feel like come January, with the kids we’ve added and our returners, that we’ll be ready and hopefully we can have another great season.”