Taking the “I” out of tennis is no easy task. Tennis is not, by nature, a team sport, but the Michigan women’s tennis team attempts to stay as unified as possible.
Coach Bitsy Ritt emphasizes this feeling of unity amongst her players. She does not want to coach a bunch of individual singles players.
For the second straight year, the squad elected Joanne Musgrove and Jen Duprez to the position of captain. The seniors ‘ new role will be to inspire hard work and encourage a solid sense of togetherness.
At matches, it is clear that the Wolverines truly care about their teammates’ outcomes. When a Wolverine is finished competing, she immediately heads to the stands to root on her teammates that are still in action. Cheers are abundant after every Michigan winner and ace.
Ritt feels that her two seniors reiterate her messages when she cannot be with the team.
“Jen and Joanne are extensions of the coaching staff,” Ritt said. “They help to provide a consistency for our younger players.”
Ritt feels that the two captains do a great job of leading, but do so in different ways. The coach admires what Musgrove brings to the court every day.
“Joanne is an excellent role model,” Ritt said. “She works so hard in practice and really sets a great example.”
Duprez, on the other hand, is the more outspoken of the two captains.
“Jen has really developed into a vocal leader,” Ritt said. “She contributes a lot to team meetings.”
Even though each player has different strengths as a captain, Ritt asserts that they both put in maximum effort at all times.
Although the seniors are inspirational leaders, they do not hold the highest positions on singles ladder. In their last match, a 5-2 win against Michigan State, Musgrove played at fifth singles while Duprez held the sixth spot. Even though the seniors do not play at the top spots, their coach values their contributions.
“Everybody steps on the court at the same time,” Ritt said. “Each match counts the same.”
Both captains made their matches count against Michigan State. Musgrove came from behind to win 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 and Duprez breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Ritt stresses that while the captains are expected to lead the team, each player has the ability to set the example from time to time.
“Everybody leads the team at one point during the season,” Ritt said.
Each Wolverine will have the chance to do so this Saturday when the Wolverines try to extend their 11-match home winning streak against Marquette at 11:00.