Led by strong play from junior Chisako Sugiyama, the Michigan women’s tennis team scored an easy 7-0 victory over Western Michigan last night at the Varsity Tennis Center, extending Michigan’s pattern of dominance in the intrastate battle.
Michigan has now racked up 21 straight victories against the Broncos. Last night’s match also gave the 29th-ranked Wolverines (7-4) their fifth consecutive win after starting the year with a subpar 2-4 record.
“This is by far the best tennis we have played all year,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “Western always seems to gives us fits, as shown by last year’s comeback win. I told the team to stay focused because on any given day in tennis, even the most talented teams can lose.”
The match started off with a strong showing by Sugiyama and sophomore Tania Mahtani, the nation’s 44th-ranked doubles team. The duo held off a late rally by Western Michigan’s doubles team to win 8-5.
“I told them to settle down, and play with more energy,” Bernstein said. “The important thing for them to realize was that losing four straight games did not matter, they were still winning.”
Sugiyama and Mahtani were on top of their game, hitting on all of their shots and dominating in every facet of the game.
Unable to match their intensity, the Broncos’ pair became frustrated. This led to several balls hit into the net and a few slammed rackets.
After the Wolverines defeated Western Michigan in all three doubles matches, Michigan swept the six singles matches. Freshmen Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno were impressive, dominating their opponents and winning 6-0, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-0, respectively.
Though most of the Wolverines breezed through their matches, Sugiyama ran into a little trouble, finding herself down 4-1 in the second after winning the first set 6-2.
But Sugiyama slowly worked her way back into the match, getting the next game to deuce with the help of a perfectly placed drop shot. Using that momentum, Sugiyama cruised to a 6-4 set win.
“That shot was the turning point in the match,” Sugiyama said. “It gave me the confidence that I could win the set and it was a huge psychological boost.”