Trey Burke, Denard Robinson, Evan King, Shawn Hunwick, Kellen Russell. These are some of the names Michigan fans mention when talking about the elite athletes at the University.
But, there’s a new name the Wolverine faithful will be talking about soon.
Freshman Emina Bektas, an Indianapolis native, is emerging as the next superstar for the women’s tennis team. She is currently ranked as the No. 10 player in the country, but after her dominant performance during the Wolverines’ first Big Ten weekend, she looks poised to move even higher.
Bektas was one of the nation’s highest-recruited players out of high school, and this weekend she showed why.
“She’s been unbelievable,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “To be able to have a freshman at the top of the lineup getting us that point is huge. She’s got a big game and she is getting better and better.”
Though her powerful first serve separates her from the competition, her opponents have been hard pressed to find any weaknesses to exploit. Her second serve has good velocity and spin, and her forehand can only be described as deadly. Through her straight-set victories in both of her matches against Wisconsin and Minnesota, Bektas controlled her serve and used a polished ground game to keep opponents pinned deep. After a forehand winner against Wisconsin, her opponent looked into the stands, shook her head with exasperation and said, “Wow.”
“I was mostly just trying to go in and play my aggressive game, get in the big first serve and then try and come in (to the net),” Bektas said.
Though she is just a freshman, Bektas has the respect and admiration of her teammates and coaches. During Bektas’ post game interview, coach Bernstein snuck up behind the reporters, put her arm around Bektas, beamed, and announced, “She’s awesome!”
Despite her heavy recruitment and remarkable success as a freshman, Bektas remains humble and eager to improve.
“I definitely (want to work on) my serve and my net game,” Bektas said. “When I come in (to the net) it’s definitely a lot better for my game, instead of getting pushed back. Definitely getting that high first-serve percentage, then getting in and closing with my volley.”
Though Bektas has been a reliable number one in the singles lineup, her development will be critical for the team as it tries to become a national contender. The team’s top three players are all freshmen and sophomores, so the future looks bright.
Maybe the only person happier than the coaching staff to have Bektas in Ann Arbor is Bektas herself.
“As soon as I came here, it definitely just felt like a family atmosphere with the team,” Bektas said. “I ended up committing the day after because I loved it so much. I love it here with the team and everything. It’s definitely the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Michigan fans are happy she made that decision and should look forward to watching Bektas’ development in the coming years. She has the talent and attitude to be the best tennis player in the country, and it may not be long before her name is mentioned along with Michigan’s other great athletes.