Saturday’s challenge was nothing new for Jenny Kuehn.

Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the graduate student knew firsthand what it takes to overcome adversity.

Kuehn rallied back to claim an exciting win for the Michigan women’s tennis team at the Varsity Tennis Center Saturday. After dropping the first set of the No. 1 singles match, Kuehn recovered and dominated Vanderbilt’s Amanda Taylor in the final two sets (2-6, 6-1, 6-2).

Kuehn battled back in the second set, taking all but one game to extend the match into a third set. As the momentum began to swing, Kuehn capitalized and put the match away.

“We all know that Jenny is really good,” sophomore Chisako Sugiyama said. “We knew that she was going to pull it out, and she played really well and set the tone off really well for our season.”

Her win clinched a 4-3 victory for the Wolverines over the 12th-ranked Commodores, giving first-year coach Amanda Augustus a win in her dual-meet coaching debut and the Wolverines an upset win in their season opener.

Kuehn’s showed both resilience and agility as she won several meticulously crafted points, much to the chagrin of her opponent. The crowd showed its appreciation after she glided across court three times before connecting on a crosscourt shot that baffled Taylor.

As the crowd gathered around Kuehn’s court, the pressure began to grow. The winner of her match would determine the winner of the meet. Both players realized the urgency of their situation and the match became a battle of wits.

“I saw that I would have the clinching match,” Kuehn said. “I kept telling myself to focus on something else, which really helped.”

Her arrival at Michigan is quite unlikely. Kuehn, a Leipzig, Germany native was enrolled at Tulane for her first three years of eligibility before the program was cancelled because of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Already graduated, Kuehn looked to play one more year for a school with a top accounting program, which led her to Michigan.

“When I came to my recruiting trip, I fell in love with Ann Arbor,” Kuehn said. “I fell in love with the winter and the team was great, so I committed right away.”

Kuehn and the rest of the Wolverines fed off a boisterous crowd, the size of which Augustus was pleased to see.

“Having all these people up there supporting the team is great,” Augustus said. “We’re very fortunate to have such supportive fans.”

Sugiyama continued her recent winning streak, dispatching her opponent Taka Bertrand in straight sets (6-0, 6-4) in the No. 2 singles match. Her win gave hope to a Michigan team that had lost in doubles play, two matches to one, and needed a victory to get back into contention.

“This season, I wanted to focus on getting a good start, and that mentality has helped me gain confidence in my matches,” Sugiyama said.

Sugiyama and senior Kara Delicata also impressed in their doubles play. The duo took a three-game lead over Vanderbilt’s Taylor and Caroline Ferrell. But the Wolverines fought back against a ferocious rally to hold them off in 7-3 tiebreak win.

Trailing after losing two of three matches in doubles play, Delicata and freshman Tania Mahtani responded by winning two singles matches over Vanderbilt’s Courtney Ulery (6-3, 6-2) and Liberty Sveke (6-2, 6-2), respectively.

The upset win against Vanderbilt will act as a confidence builder for the Wolverines, who now head out west to take on Oregon and Washington. Having defeated a top-25 team, Michigan now knows that it has the ability to compete with the best.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.