As the Wolverine Invitational kicked off on Friday, the Michigan women’s tennis team returned home for the first time since the spring. With new faces looking to make an impact alongside strong returning players, freshman Piper Charney was determined to shine.
Charney, a five-star recruit who was ranked fourth in her class, made her first appearance at home. She paired up with senior Jaedan Brown and got off to a hot start. After an early break, the duo found their rhythm en route to a 6-2 victory.
But as Charney would find out, not everything would be smooth sailing.
Charney’s first singles match did not start off as strong, dropping a contested first set to Yale’s Ann Wright Guerry. Refusing to give in, Charney broke Wright Guerry’s serve early in the second set and never looked back. She stormed forward, winning the second and third sets and, hence, the match.
“I was the last one on court in the third set,” Charney said. “All my teammates were on the court next to me cheering me on, which was super helpful, especially when I was down.”
Looking to capitalize on their momentum from the first day, Charney and Brown battled back from down a break to get back on serve against Arizona State’s Sara Svetac and Rachel Hanford. However, the tandem couldn’t hold serve late and lost, 7-5.
“I feel like (Charney) has been a little bit nervous and hasn’t been playing the tennis she’s probably expecting herself to,” Michigan assistant coach Teryn Ashley-Fitch said.
Although this may have been the case in this instance, Charney was not deterred.
Without skipping a beat, she powered through the first set against Princeton’s Tsehay Driscoll, 6-2. The second set was much closer, as she was locked in a battle with her opponent. As the adversaries entered a tiebreak, Charney pulled away and won the match, ending her Saturday on a high note with momentum.
“My focus on it just slipped a little bit,” Charney said. “(Driscoll) was able to get back in the match. You have to stay focused because (the match) can quickly change on you. You don’t want to play three (sets).
On Sunday, Charney kept her foot on the gas, teaming up with Brown. The partners made up for their previous loss, making quick work of their opponents. She then pushed it into another gear, and sped off to a quick first set victory in her singles match. Showing no signs of slowing down, she clinched the match and earned a perfect singles record for the weekend.
“She had a great win over a really good player and had good energy,” Ashley-Fitch said. “It was a great way to end the weekend for her.”
Amid a weekend of success for the Wolverines, Charney demonstrated her abilities. She stood her ground against top talent, playing consistent tennis while making her opponents run side to side.
As a freshman, this consistent play is a sign of good things to come. But as a freshman, Charney still has a road ahead of her on her way towards a steady impact.
Charney has quickly established herself as a force, and if she can keep up her confident play, she may make a case to be a roster mainstay and key piece for Michigan’s future.