The Michigan women’s tennis team has beaten Indiana just once outside of Ann Arbor, a 5-2 victory during the 1996-97 season. Yesterday, history was made for a second time. The No. 38 Michigan women’s tennis team (4-2 Big Ten, 11-5 overall) used solid singles play against the Hoosiers (1-5, 9-12) to capture a 5-2 victory at the IU Varsity Tennis Courts on Sunday.
“We knew coming in that we were the underdogs, but we put a scare in them,” Indiana coach Lin Loring said.
The Hoosiers jumped out to an early 1-0, behind their exemplary season-long doubles play at the No. 1 position. Indiana’s Linda Tran and Karie Schlukebir defeated Michigan’s Michelle DaCosta and Leanne Rutherford 8-3. Indiana’s duo finished last year as the highest-ranked doubles team in the Midwest regional rankings and has a 15-5 record this season.
Splitting the doubles matches, the deciding match finished in dramatic fashion. Indiana’s Martina Grimm and Sarah Batty trailed Michigan’s Jennifer Duprez and Kim Plaushines 7-3, before winning the next six games en route to a 9-7 victory.
“Doubles is such a game of momentum,” Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. “We got off to a great start and had opportunities to finish and we didn’t convert on those (opportunities). Next thing you know, the match is very close.”
Despite losing the doubles point, the Wolverines played inspired singles matches.
Junior Kim Plaushines defeated Indiana’s Dominika Walterova 6-2, 6-0 to even the match at 1-1.
“Kim really dominated singles today. She overpowered her opponent with her serve and her inside-out forehand,” Ritt said. “While it may appear on paper to be an easy win, Kim deserves a lot of credit for taking charge of that court.”
The Hoosier’s briefly regained the lead 2-1 at the No. 2 singles position before Michigan’s Debra Streifler evened the match at 2-2, dismantling Indiana’s Sophie Rychlik 6-0, 6-1.
The freshman was inserted into the lineup only minutes before the match started, because senior Joanne Musgrove injured her shoulder during warm-ups.
“Debra had a great day today,” Ritt said. “She was the only player to win in doubles and singles. It’s great to see her playing singles.”
The Wolverines led for the first time when sophomore Michelle DaCosta posted a 6-4, 7-5 win over Linda Tran.
Up 3-2, the Wolverines needed only one of the remaining two matches to secure the victory.
Senior Jennifer Duprez clinched her second straight match for the Wolverines, winning 6-2, 6-4 over six-footer Karie Schlukebir.
As usual, sophomore Leanne Rutherford took her match the distance. Winning the first set 6-2, Rutherford dropped the second set to Indiana’s Martina Grimm 6-1. Known for her mental toughness, Rutherford didn’t break a sweat in the third, cruising 6-3 – giving Michigan their fifth singles win on the day and her 20th singles victory of the season.
“Actually, it was a tough match,” Ritt said. “Indiana played well. They are a much stronger team then their record indicates. But Nos. 1, 3 and 5 singles all fought hard for us today.”