Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt is very excited for her next four seasons as coach of the women’s tennis team. And with good reason – freshman sensation Chisako Sugiyama dominated the “Blue” singles flight of the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor this weekend. Sugiyama steamrolled her competition, winning all four of her matches en route to her first championship as a Wolverine. She never even came close to dropping a setA-A-A-A-A-A- – not bad for the freshman’s first collegiate matches.
“I was really surprised that I was able to play so well,” Sugiyama said. “You have to play really well on these courts because the conditions are different every day. Sometimes it’s windy, sometimes it’s not at all, sometimes the wind is so bad that it’s so hard to chase the ball because you have no idea where the ball is going to bounce.”
The court conditions didn’t affect Sugiyama at all. She put together decisive victories each day of the Friday-to-Sunday tournament. She disposed of Erin Watkins of Marquette on Friday (6-1, 6-1), Sarah Andrews of Michigan State (6-4, 6-1) and Malena Remynse of Western Michigan (6-0, 6-0) on Saturday and won Sunday’s championship match against Rattiya Hiranrat (6-1, 6-3) of Western Michigan.
“Winning this tournament is definitely a confidence booster,” Sugiyama said. “Hopefully, I can keep on improving.”
Ritt wasn’t surprised at Sugiyama’s success.
“I have high expectations for Chisako and all of our players,” Ritt said. “But I certainly learned through the recruiting process that Chisako is a very competitive and talented player. Even though this was her first collegiate event, we knew that she was ready to compete and play well.”
Sugiyama’s teammates also shared success this weekend. Sophomore Allie Shafner dropped her first match but bounced back to win her next three, including the consolation championship of the “Blue” singles flight. Junior Lindsey Goldstein finished 2-2 in the “Blue” singles flight and sophomore Monica Sly ended the weekend 2-2 in the “Maize” singles flight.
The doubles teams also played consistently all weekend. Ritt experimented with several different partner combinations and all saw success. The tandem of Shafner and Sugiyama led the way with an unblemished 3-0 record. Sugiyama also teamed with Sly and Goldstein for a couple wins.
Overall, the team was 11-5 in singles and 8-2 in doubles. The Wolverines had a good weekend considering they were without their top four players.
Seniors Nina Yaftali and Debra Streifler as well as juniors Kara Delicata and Elizabeth Exon competed at the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships in Los Angeles this weekend. None of the girls were able to move beyond the pre-qualifying rounds. Exon was seeded sixth in the tournament but lost her first-round in three sets. The others also lost their first round singles matches, all on Saturday morning. Streifler and Exon won their first match in the doubles tournament but couldn’t keep it going, losing in the second round to top-seeded Dominka Dieskova and Anna Cecilia Olivos from Oregon.
Delicata and Yaftali will team up on Tuesday in the qualifying rounds of the tournament in Pacific Palisades, Calif. In order to qualify for the main draw, they will need to splice together three wins.
The team will now begin gearing up for their next competition, the ITA Midwest Regional Championships. The tournament will take place at Michigan State’s Indoor Tennis Facility in East Lansing, from Oct. 20 to 25.