Michigan’s No. 1 singles player, Michelle DaCosta, is a bit deceiving. Soft-spoken and modest, DaCosta’s off-court demeanor is the opposite of her intimidating on-court presence. Her most recent victim, Marquette’s Eva Trujillo, experienced just that. Taking the match into the third set, Trujillo never had a chance against DaCosta’s thundering late-game serving as DaCosta persevered 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

“Being able to serve well throughout the match helps me out a lot in the third set,” DaCosta said. “I have more confidence in my match play, and I also get a lot of support from my teammates and fans.”

Support came not just in the form of encouragement. Her teammates clinched the match before DaCosta even began her third set.

Marquette (3-12 overall) seemed to be thinking about the school’s upcoming NCAA basketball tournament game instead of tennis, because the 33rd-ranked Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten, 9-3) pounded the Golden Eagles 6-1 on Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center.

Michigan used solid doubles play as a momentum-builder for the rest of the match.

“It was great that we swept the doubles (matches),” Assistant coach Greg Novak said, “It was a great confidence builder for the rest of the match.”

Leading 1-0, Michigan’s Jen Duprez cruised to victory over Marquette’s Alexandra Stankovic 6-1, 6-4 – earning her 30th career dual match victory.

“Jen’s been stepping up for us,” Novak said about the senior’s recent play. Duprez has been inserted into the lineup because of injuries to starters Kavitha Tipirneni and Debra Streifler.

Leanne Rutherford cruised past Marquette’s Veronica Briseno 6-2, 6-3, winning her 14th match in her past 15 tries to give the Wolverines a commanding 3-0 lead.

The only hiccup for the Wolverines was the surprising loss of Kim Plaushines, who had won nine matches in a row and was unbeaten in dual matches this season.

Playing a familiar opponent, Marquette’s Anna Pavlovic, Plaushines lost 6-3, 6-3 giving the Golden Eagles their only point of the day.

“I struggled with execution on a lot of my shots,” Plaushines said, “She had an answer for everything that I tried. It wasn’t my best tennis today.”

But Michigan Junior Chrissie Nolan played solidly at the No. 2 singles position and handled Annabelle Espinosa 6-4, 6-1 to clinch the match for the Wolverines.

After Joanne Musgrove dominated Genevieve Charron 6-1, 7-5, the entire crowd at the Varsity Tennis Center collected to watch the third and final set of DaCosta’s match against the feisty Trujillo.

Though her teammates had clinched a victory before DaCosta even began her third set, DaCosta’s fan club – yes, fan club, cheered her on as if her play would decide the outcome of the match.

Her fan club may be small, but it is very vocal. They shouted renditions of “dig deep blue” and “stay tough Blue,” more times during the match than Dick Vitale says “awesome baby” during a college basketball game.

Next up for the Wolverines is a tough road match against 27th-ranked Notre Dame (8-6) tomorrow, a team they haven’t beaten since the 1993-94 season.

“We’ve been having a great season so far,” Novak said. “This match was a great confidence builder going into Notre Dame.”

Remember, March is a month historically riddled with sports upsets, and riding their four-match win streak into South Bend, Ind., the Wolverines are hoping for a little Irish luck of their own.

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