Wolverine fans don’t start talking trash just yet. After satisfying victories by the men’s basketball and wrestling teams, both over the Ohio State Buckeyes, the No. 28 Michigan women’s tennis team hoped to complete the athletic trifecta with a win at No. 44 Ohio State yesterday.
Despite a battle to the very end, the Wolverines (1-1 Big Ten, 4-2 Overall) fell to the Buckeyes (3-0, 5-0) 4-3.
“It was a very close match and very competitive,” Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. “We had a lot of three-setters. It was an emotional match with a lot of heart and fight an we just came up a bit short.”
Jump-starting the Wolverines were Kim Plaushines and Debra Streifler, who won their singles matches at the No. 5 and No. 6 singles, giving Michigan an early 2-1 advantage.
Ohio State then rallied back. Sadhaf Pervez narrowly defeated Michelle DaCosta at the No. 1 position, winning 7-5, 7-6 to tie the duel match at 2-2.
The Buckeyes’ Pervez and Lindsay Williams topped DaCosta and Leanne Rutherford at the top doubles spot 8-6 to capture the single doubles point, moving Ohio State into the lead.
Needing only one victory in the remaining two singles matches to win the event, Ohio State’s Jackie Leskovar out-dueled Michigan junior Chrissie Nolan 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 at the No. 3 position to seal the match for the Buckeyes.
Michigan’s deep lineup kept it in the match as the No. 4, 5 and 6 starters all won.
“It turns out we had a bit more depth,” Ritt said. “Leanne Rutherford, Kim Plaushines and Debra Streifler all stepped up and won their singles (matches).”
Coming into yesterday’s dual match against Ohio State, fans, coaches and players expected a tough contest. Two seasons ago, Michigan lost to Ohio State 4-3, and last year the Wolverines edged the Buckeyes 4-3.
“With OSU lately we’ve had a pretty intense rivalry,” Ritt said, “We certainly had our chances at (positions) one, two,and three. We have to give credit to Ohio State.”
The weekend wasn’t a complete let-down. The Wolverines won their Big Ten opener at Penn State on Saturday, their first conference-opening victory in the past four seasons.
After a 19-day break from competition, the Wolverines scored an impressive 6-1 victory against the Nittany Lions. Michelle DaCosta snapped a three-game losing steak with a narrow win at the No. 1 spot, beating Megan Marton 7-5, 7-6(8-6). The Lady Lions (0-2, 0-5) were overwhelmed from the start, as they dropped 5-of-6 singles matches. Dacosta, Nolan, Rutherford and Streifler all won their singles and doubles matches for the Wolverines.
“It was a good win,” said Ritt modestly. “Any time you can win in the Big Ten it’s a big accomplishment.”
Playing two dual matches on consecutive days may seem exhausting to fans, but Ritt feels that her team’s loss to the Buckeyes wasn’t due to conditioning.
“As a team, we’re in very good shape, we’re very fit and physically strong,” she said. “We just played the bigger points better against Penn. State.”