“I hate the wind, I hate the wind, I hate the sun, I hate the rain, but I sure do hate the wind.”
All those playing at the Varsity Tennis Center this weekend were singing the Nickelodeon series Hey Arnold!, as they played through sub-50 degree weather Saturday and gushing winds and blinding sunlight Sunday. Despite the unfriendly weather, Michigan went on to beat Big Ten rivals Ohio State, 7-0, and Penn State, 6-1.
After playing outdoor for the first time at home this year, the Wolverines were able to extend their winning streak to eight and their Big Ten winning streak to 22, having not lost a conference match in over two years.
Poor weather conditions have plagued Ann Arbor this spring, leaving the 10th-ranked Wolverines (7-0 Big Ten, 17-3 overall) unable to prepare for upcoming outdoor play in the rest of the Big Ten regular-season and championship season.
“In May, that’s where we are going to be playing,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “We can be inside and be comfortable or we could be outside and be a little uncomfortable. I think the tougher conditions we put the girls under, the tougher we are going to be. I want us to be ready at the end of the year so whenever we can get outdoors we need to play outdoors.
“Mentally, it’s good for us to get outside and to get used to it because that’s where we’re going to be, and if we want to do well at the end we need to be comfortable with that.”
The Wolverines continue to blow through a weak Big Ten schedule, as they have lost just three points through seven matches of conference play. As the Big Ten regular season comes to a close, all eyes turn towards the upcoming home match against Northwestern, the only other undefeated team in the Big Ten.
“I think it’s a lot of our preparation that goes into it,” senior Whitney Taney said Sunday. “We don’t take any match for granted and we just take it a match at a time. We’re all hard workers in practice and we all know what we have to do. I think that’s the biggest thing just keep working hard and taking it a match at a time.”
Michigan has seen success in the conference because of its tremendous depth. Five Wolverines maintained their perfect Big Ten records this weekend. Senior Denise Muresan, freshman Brooke Bolender and Taney improved to 7-0 as Bolender extended her overall winning streak to 13 straight and Taney to 11.
“We have a lot more confidence this year,” Muresan said. “We have confidence that every single person on the court that they’re going to do their job and win every singles match. I believe any player on our team can beat any other Big Ten player they are facing.”
This weekend’s victories were particularly special for Muresan and Bolender. Muresan tied former Wolverine Chisako Sugiyama for the most singles wins in Michigan history at 104, and she’ll have two opportunities to break the record next week at Illinois and Iowa. Bolender continued her record-breaking freshman campaign by becoming the only freshman to reach 30 singles wins in a season and sits just four behind the all-time Michigan record.