Freshman Emina Bektas had reason to smile Tuesday morning.
Her singles title — the program’s first ever — led the Michigan women’s tennis team this weekend at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships in Columbus. In their fourth non-scoring tournament of the preseason, the Wolverines also put a doubles team in the semifinals.
But it was the play of Bektas that stood out.
“Emina culminated the whole weekend,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “She just played some really solid tennis, and it was good to see in the finals today (that) she played at a really high level.”
After a pair of close three-setters on Monday, Bektas didn’t have much time to rest. She was back on the court early Tuesday morning in singles, when her serve was not broken once. She defeated Northwestern’s Brittany Wowchuk in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
“It puts a lot more pressure on her opponent when they are serving because they have to stay with her and try and hold serve,” Bernstein said. “She just kept the pressure on the girl today, got a couple breaks and ran away with it in the second set.”
Last week’s Big Ten Player of the Week, sophomore Sam Critser, fell short on Monday in the quarterfinals against the Wildcat’s Kate Turvy. But later that afternoon, Bektas, the 9th-ranked freshman, rallied to beat Turvy in the semifinals. After dropping the first set, Bektas won 11 consecutive points against Turvy to reach the finals.
“When I was down 6-5 in the third, I started playing more of my game, and reeled off 11-straight consecutive points,” Bektas said. “That gave me a lot of confidence in my final match.”
Her impressive run wasn’t limited to singles. She is also one half of the No. 17 doubles team with sophomore Brooke Bolender. The pair made it to the semifinals before falling to Northwestern’s No. 3 team of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton, 9-7.
Bektas’s victory secures her spot in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships on Nov. 3 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. She posted an impressive 8-2 record during her rookie season and has four wins against ranked opponents.
With just two tournaments left in the preseason, the spring cannot come soon enough.
“We just got to keep working hard,” Bernstein said. “We definitely have some talent on this team and good camaraderie.”
The Wolverines also have an exciting new player in Bektas, who will play a big role going forward.