The Michigan women’s tennis team failed to get anything going in its match against No. 18 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. yesterday. Offering anything but southern hospitality, the Volunteers jumped on the Wolverines early and never looked back en route to a 5-0 victory.
“Tennessee played very well, especially in singles,” Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. “We had some close matches, but they outplayed us at every position.”
The lone bright spot of the day for Michigan came in a match that didn’t even count. Leading 7-2 in the No. 1 doubles match, senior co-captain Michelle DaCosta and sophomore Kara Delicata were forced to abandon the match because Tennessee had taken the other two doubles matches, clinching the team doubles point.
“We played well at (No.) 1 doubles,” Ritt said. “But we struggled at (No.) 2 and (No.) 3 doubles, so they were able to take the doubles point and use that as momentum.”
The Volunteers used the momentum to their advantage as the scene shifted to singles play. Michigan senior co-captain Leanne Rutherford hung tough for a set against Victoria Jones before falling, 6-4, 6-0, at No. 4 singles. Tennessee’s Blakeley Griffith was solid throughout the entire match in her 6-2, 6-4 win over Delicata at No. 2 singles.
A loss away from defeat, DaCosta fought hard but failed to keep Michigan’s hopes alive in the No. 1 singles match. She lost, 6-4, 6-4, to Sabita Maharaj, clinching the overall victory for the Volunteers. The No. 5 and 6 singles matches were left unfinished with the overall match having already been decided.
Earlier in the day, Michigan’s pair of sophomore Elizabeth Exon and junior Nina Yaftali fell to Bryce Marable and Blakeley Griffith, 8-4, at No. 3 doubles. In the No. 2 doubles match, Rutherford and freshman Allie Shafner lost to Tennessee’s tandem of Ashley Robards and Ghizela Schutte, 8-5.
“After a tough match like this, the key is to not lose sight of the bigger picture,” Ritt said. “We need to focus on our strengths in our matches and work to get better at our weaknesses.”
The loss drops Michigan to 3-4 on the season, putting the team below .500 for the first time this year. But, the Wolverines are not too down as they know they have faced a lot of quality teams so far.
“We’re not very concerned with our record at this point,” Ritt said. “It is still very early and we are playing a lot of good teams. The tough nonconference schedule should prepare us for the Big Ten season.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Michigan. After a long break, the Wolverines will return to the Varsity Tennis Center to face the No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats on Feb. 26.