The Michigan women’s tennis team put on a dominant showing in the Wolverine Invitational, ending the tournament with a 12-1 record in singles and 5-1 in doubles. In the midst of that team-wide success, it’s hard to imagine one name would stand out from the rest.
Except freshman Reese Miller did exactly that.
Miller started her thriller performance by joining sophomore Bailey Sheinin in doubles against Princeton’s Alice Ferlito and Tsehay Driscoll, trading games and to start the set 2-2.
And that was when Miller broke out with strong play in the backcourt, perfectly placing her return shots and staying consistent in her attack. Miller and Sheinin started pulling away from the Tigers, winning the match 6-2.
“I was really nervous this week,” Miller said. “I think I didn’t really realize it until I was on the court.”
Whatever nerves Miller may have had certainly did not show themselves on the court, as she continued her impressive day by defeating Michigan State’s Ria Bhatka soundly, winning both sets 6-0. Well-placed and consistent play allowed a quick victory for the freshman, which proved to be a trend for her throughout the tournament.
Miller continued her dominance on the second day of the tournament, once again paired with Sheinin for doubles play against Arizona State’s Sara Svetac and Rachel Hanford. This time, the tandem got into trouble early on, quickly dropping the first three sets to give the Sun Devils a 3-0 advantage. A change needed to happen, and Miller seemed to make that adjustment just in time.
“We were just working on coming in more and being more aggressive and using our serve,” Miller said.
Showing off their mobility across the court, Miller and Sheinin were able to hold the fourth game, 3-1 ASU. Although the Sun Devils ended up taking the next game, Miller’s strong serve, mobility, and consistency shined through. The Sheinin and Miller duo held and went on a five-game win streak to win the set 6-4.
Miller moved into her second singles match against Alice Ferlito of Princeton, and found herself quickly down 3-0 yet again. But just as she was able to make the necessary adjustments in her doubles match, she found a way to make them in singles as well.
“I was able to just kind of keep swinging through my nerves,” Miller said. “And get my ball deep and kind of get it to my backhand, which was my strategy that was able to pull them through.”
Miller didn’t let the early deficit get to her, and that resolve allowed her to pull back and win the first set 6-4. Miller continued to battle Ferlito back and forth, trading games and eventually ending up tied at 3-3.
But just as she had done the entire weekend, Miller stepped on the gas and pulled away, hitting powerful and well-placed shots out of Ferlito’s reach, allowing her to take the set 6-4, and the match 2-0.
The freshman entered day three of the tournament undefeated, looking to keep her clean sweep in her first collegiate tournament.
Similar to their performance in the prior match, Miller and Sheinin made some early mistakes against Yale’s Mirabelle Bretkelly and Erin Ha. Yet Miller held strong, showing off her skills at the net. Strong volleys and a framed shot that gave the Bulldogs no chance to pull away allowed Miller and Sheinin to end the weekend with a 6-3 win over Yale, bringing their doubles record to 3-0.
Miller needed only one more singles win against Issey Purser of Michigan State to finish her first collegiate tournament undefeated.
It quickly appeared as though that would be the case, with Miller showcasing her consistently dominant performance once again, taking the first set 6-0. Yet Miller ran into trouble in the second set, bringing the game to tiebreaks at 6-6.
“I was just able to calm myself down and it kind of felt like a rest at six all,” Miller said. “Then I was like ok, just one point at a time through the tiebreaker. I got a few errors early on, and I was able to just keep going through that.”
Miller’s resolve showed yet again, shooting out to an early lead in the tiebreak and eventually winning the set 7-6, and the match 2-0.
With another win in the singles column, Miller completed the tournament with a perfect record, going 3-0 in both singles and doubles.
Consistency and resilience, along with a couple of adjustments made on the fly, gave Miller everything she needed to roll through her opposition in her first collegiate tournament. With this strong offering of fresh talent on an already strong Michigan team, Miller hopes to continue her career by piling on convincing wins as she did over the weekend.
In a dominant performance for the Wolverines, it’s not easy for one player to shine so bright— yet Miller did just that.