While Flushing Meadows, which plays host to the U.S. Open every summer, is always bustling with excited and overzealous fans, the Varsity Tennis Center rarely fills with the same type of excitement.
But this past Friday, a group of school children from Clio made the trip down to Ann Arbor to cheer on the Wolverines.
For many it was an introduction to organized tennis. It was clear they were excited to be there, cheering for every player and asking them for autographs afterward.
“No, we don”t exactly feel famous,” sophomore Jen Duprez said. “It is great to see people come out to watch us and especially to see little kids getting interested in tennis.”
After the 7-0 victory over intrastate rival Michigan State, the Wolverines where more than happy to oblige their young patrons. The win boosted their record back to .500 a mark they have been flirting with for the past week.
Winning all of the possible points, Michigan”s only blemish came in No. 1 doubles where Szandra Fuzesi and Kim Plaushines fought back from a four-game deficit only to fall to Caroline Lay and Trine Lise Juliussen in the tiebreaker 9-8 (4).
Both the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles made quick work of their opponents, winning 8-2 and 8-1. The freshman combo of Kavitha Tipirneni and Chrissi Nolan played flawlessly, splitting opponents down the middle while winning their close net volleys and finishing points. Despite this stellar performance, Nolan insists the tandem have yet to play their best tennis together.
After the doubles, the team proceeded to get off to strong starts in their singles matches with Kavitha and Fuzesi both winning their first three games. Michigan went on to win every singles match while winning every set with only one tiebreaker.
The victory was slightly marred by the Wolverines” lapses of concentration at points in their matches. With significant leads, several players seemed to become complacent and lose focus, proceeding to allow their opponent back into the match.
“Some players were a little streaky where they got ahead early,” Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. “They let their lead slip away or got down early. If anything (I think there was) a little loss of concentration. (Some players) felt we were in control. You miss some shots that you should make giving the opponent confidence, and then she is back in it.”
While Michigan was able to make up for its lapses of focus, such behavior could prove dangerous against higher quality opponents. With half of the Big Ten schedule remaining, there are still many top opponents for the Wolverines to play.