For the second consecutive year, a Michigan Wolverine captured the Michigan Invitational singles title.
With a 6-4, 6-4 victory on Sunday against Georgia Tech’s Jillian O’Neill, ranked 45th nationally, Michigan women’s tennis freshman Emina Bektas took home the Michigan Invitational singles title, finishing the weekend with a 3-0 record at the top singles spot.
“It feels great,” Bektas said. “I just really wanted to come out here — and even though this was technically not a team (event) — and do it for the team, and really get adjusted to how it’s going to be during the (dual-match) season.”
Playing in front of the Ann Arbor crowd this weekend for the first time all year, the highly touted freshman didn’t disappoint. Against O’Neill, Bektas, ranked 36th, took control of the match from the outset with overpowering groundstrokes and surgical execution, taking an early lead in the second set after winning the first. But O’Neill fought back and appeared to be back in the match after cutting her second-set deficit to 4-3.
But Bektas didn’t seem to feel the pressure. She unleashed a powerful service game, finishing the game with three straight aces. Two games later, Bektas finished off the match with another impressive service game.
“She’s a freshman, but she doesn’t play like one,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “She’s very confident in what she does and she has a big game.”
But as well as she played against O’Neill, it might not have been Bektas’ best performance of the weekend.
Matching up against Washington’s Denise Dy, ranked 10th, at the top singles spot on Saturday, Bektas displayed a confident all-around game. Though she dropped the first set, Bektas rallied to overcome the one-set deficit and upset Dy, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“The whole time I just told myself to keep fighting,” Bektas said. “I told myself that I was playing a dual match out there and really wanted to win it for our team. At the end, I really picked up my game and came out with the upset.”
Though it was an individual competition, the Michigan Invitational was played in a dual-match format, which offered a glimpse of how successful Michigan will be once the dual-match season starts.
Despite missing sophomore Sam Critser due to injury, the Wolverines looked strong. Michigan swept all six singles matches against Washington and No. 24 Arkansas on each of the event’s first two days. Michigan finished with a 15-3 overall record in singles and a 7-2 overall record in doubles.
Along with Bektas, both sophomore Brooke Bolender and freshman Kristen Dodge finished the weekend undefeated.
“I think the weekend went pretty well for us,” Bolender said. “We have a young team so I think it was a good thing that our freshman got to play on our (home) courts. We had a strong showing, and I think everyone got better each day.”
Junior Mimi Nguyen and senior Michelle Sulahian won the doubles title, going undefeated during the tournament at the No. 2 doubles spot. The duo was the lone pair to win a doubles match against Georgia Tech, defeating Caroline Lilley and Jasime Minor, 9-8, in a tightly contested match.
“Overall, we played great,” Bernstein said. “I’m happy with the way the freshman played and how we, as a team, competed.”