Freshman Chisako Sugiyama’s winner down the left side didn’t just signify the end of her match.
It also marked the final time her parents will see her play before they move from their New Jersey home back to Japan, where Sugiyama was born.
Winning her singles match in lights-out fashion, 6-2, 6-3, Sugiyama led the 22nd-ranked Wolverines to a 5-2 victory over in-state rival Western Michigan last night at the Varsity Tennis Center.
Cheered on by her mother, father and two younger sisters, Sugiyama found the win memorable, since it was possibly the last match her family will see her play. Sugiyama’s family will board a plane from Detroit to Los Angeles and then to Japan tomorrow evening.
“The adjustment will be difficult with the time difference,” Sugiyama said. “Communication is going to be a big change. Having them here is always helpful, and they enjoy watching me play. It will just be much different because it’s harder to cross the ocean than to cross the country.”
Still, Sugiyama said that having her family at the match and seeing them before they leave makes the win much sweeter.
Ending her match first, Sugiyama’s victory was quickly followed by junior Kara Delicata’s No. 1 singles win, 7-5, 6-1. The win sets into motion Delicata’s first winning streak of the season at the top spot.
“I think I’m finally hitting my stride,” Delicata said. “It’s just getting to that point (in the season) where everything I’ve been working on starts to come together.”
Along with her singles game, Delicata seems to have found her match with senior Debra Streifler at No. 1 doubles. The two extended their winning streak to three games with a commanding 8-3 victory over the Broncos’ Carrie Jeanmarie and Kerstin Pahl. The Michigan duo has dropped just one match since pairing up four matches ago against Notre Dame on Feb. 15.
“I’ve always thought that (Streifler) and I would have a lot of potential,” Delicata said. “As a team, I think we play off each other so well. She does a lot of the things that I don’t. She moves a lot more than I do, and I just kind of play around her.”
Streifler won her singles match 7-6(8), 6-2 at the No. 4 spot to go along with her doubles win. Streifler sealed the win for the Wolverines as she fought through the tiebreaker. She then won her final set convincingly, breaking Western Michigan’s Rattiya Hiranrat three times.
With senior Nina Yaftali and freshman Lindsey Howard’s win at No. 3 doubles, Michigan once again started the match with a one-point advantage.
“As a team, we have to expect to get the (doubles point),” coach Bitsy Ritt said. “I always tell the girls that they have to go out and expect to win every match and winning the doubles match is simply a step we have to climb over before we can think about the singles matches.”
Sugiyama and sophomore Allie Shanfer dropped the third doubles match for the Wolverines.
Despite the doubles loss, three of the last five Michigan players won in singles.
The win – the Wolverines’ fourth straight – stands as their second-to-last nonconference match.
Michigan will face Alabama in Tuscaloosa on March 19.