The Michigan women’s tennis team faced virtually no problems in its Big Ten road matchups this past weekend.
With wins over conference rivals Nebraska and Iowa, the Wolverines have momentum on their side moving into the final weekend of the regular season.
Friday marked the second-ever meeting between No. 14 Michigan and Nebraska and their first meeting as Big Ten rivals. In this historic match, the Wolverines wasted no time in toppling the 17th-ranked Cornhuskers, coasting to a 6-1 dual-match victory.
For the fifth time this season, Michigan claimed all three doubles matchups behind the impressive performance of its top duo freshman Emina Bektas and sophomore Brooke Bolender, who advanced to No. 6 with their third-straight victory over a ranked pair. The momentum boost let the Wolverines jump out to an early lead and helped them secure the win.
“We competed really hard,” said Michigan head coach Ronni Bernstein. “We won a lot of close matches. (Friday) was a really tough matchup, even though the score was 6-1.”
One of the hardest competitors was freshman Sarah Lee, who rallied back after losing the first set, 6-1, and claimed the next set in a tiebreaker after coming within one game of elimination. Lee locked up the victory with a 6-3 third-set win, which clinched the overall win for Michigan.
“Sarah just hung in there and battled back, which is so important if we’re going to be a successful team down the stretch,” Bernstein said.
Michigan looked to continue its success in a morning matchup in Iowa City against the struggling Hawkeyes on Sunday.
The doubles dominance rolled over from Friday to Sunday, as the Wolverines swept the three matchups for the second time on the weekend. Bektas and Bolender again led the charge, extending their win streak as a tandem to six.
But the success would not last for Bektas and Bolender, who both dropped their singles matchups. Luckily, Michigan was able to rely on the play of their middle players.
Every other singles match resulted in a straight-sets victory for the Wolverines.
Lee, uninterested in a second dramatic showdown, coasted to an easy victory, that marked Michigan’s first singles win of the day.
Following Lee’s example, junior Mimi Nguyen, sophomore Sam Critser and freshman Kristen Dodge all rolled to victory with seemingly no problems, securing the win for Michigan, 5-2.
“We’re learning so much from each match,” Critser said. “We’re really coming together as a team and learning how to play with each other.”
Michigan, fueled by a narrow loss against Northwestern a week before, showed the team’s ability to quickly bounce back after a tough loss.
“We’re getting better and better,” Bernstein said. “Now that we’re nearing the end of the season, we’re starting to get everybody competing and playing at a high level.”
Bernstein and the Wolverines hope that the high level of play will continue as the team heads into its last regular-season matchups this weekend against Penn State and Ohio State.