Junior Brooke Bolender played like a true captain in the women’s tennis team’s 5-2 win over No. 14 Texas on Sunday.
Her day began alongside sophomore Emina Betkas as the duo crushed 24th-ranked Breaunna Addison and Noel Scott, 8-2. Since solidifying themselves as a pair in early February, sixth-ranked Bolender and Betkas haven’t lost a match and expanded their undefeated record to 6-0.
Over the course of the dual-match season, Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein has tested seven different lineups. But because of Bolender and Betkas’ staggering consistency, they’ve been able to withstand the tinkering.
Bolender attributes the pair’s recurring success to having the opportunity together all of last year. She said they played every match together, and that they’re really starting to come together this year.
“We started off strong today,” Bolender said. “We started off with a break (serve), which is good because we have trouble breaking sometimes.”
With their immediate success, they were able to jump out to an early 4-1 lead and cruised to the 8-2 finish.
From there, Bolender took on the Longhorns’ Elizabeth Begley. Though she defeated Begley, 7-5, 6-2, in a two-set victory, almost every game came down to wire. Several of the matches were tied at 40 until the junior beat Begley in the advantage points.
Bolender showed incredible patience throughout the match. A few of her points came off brilliantly played balls in which Begley would skyrocket a return, giving Bolender the chance to masterfully position her body under the ball and blast a shot past her opponent. Other times, Bolender showcased her athleticism by digging one ball out at her feet and then barely keeping it between the lines as she leaped for the next one over her head.
“We play similarly, but I tried to be more aggressive,” Bolender said of her opponent.
Knowing Begley was a lefty, Bolender attacked her with her forehand, charging the net every chance she could. Begley put up a good fight, but Bolender was relentless in her approach. Out-crafting her opponent and gaining the net more times than Begley, Bolender secured the final edge.
There are only seven players on the team, meaning each player is accountable, but Bolender did admit that being a captain sparks the tenacity that she plays on the court.
“As a captain, I better fight as hard as I possibly can, but I think that’s something I’ve done since my first day here,” Bolender said.
All in all, the Wolverines are pleased with their recent performance. Bolender said it was great to see her team turn around the 5-2 defeat that the Longhorns handed to Northwestern in their previous match.