Every point counts for the Michigan women’s tennis
team.

Laura Wong
Debra Streifler has been solid when paired with Kim Plaushines in doubles competition. (FILE PHOTO)

But the one point that is the most coveted is referred to as the
“doubles point.”

For each dual match, the team that wins two of three doubles
matches wins the doubles point. After the doubles competition, six
singles matches are played, with a point being awarded to the
winner of each. The team that wins the best of seven total points
wins the dual match.

Though the doubles point only accounts for one point of a
possible seven, it often means the difference between winning and
losing.

“(The doubles point) has a big impact on momentum,”
senior Kim Plaushines said. “It’s such a confidence
builder, getting that doubles point.”

In Michigan’s most recent victory over Notre Dame, the
competition came down to the Wolverines winning the doubles point,
and they edged out the Fighting Irish, 4-3. Plaushines and her
doubles partner, sophomore Debra Streifler, sealed the deal by
taking the doubles point with their victory at the No. 3
position.

The current scoring system has not always been used, however.
Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt explained that for years, dual matches
were nine-point competitions, with each victory (in both doubles
and singles) counting for one point. Doubles matches also used to
be a best two-out-of-three format, as opposed to the eight-game
pro-set format followed today. The International Tennis
Association, though, decided that the dual matches were lasting too
long and created the doubles point.

“It’s a very good format,” Ritt said.
“Doubles always counts. I think it makes it more exciting for
the players and fans.”

Streifler echoed Ritt’s enthusiasm for the current scoring
system that revolves around the doubles point.

“(With the doubles point), your team is counting on you,
and you have to rely on your team,” Streifler said.
“(Without the doubles point), the team aspect of the game
would be lost.”

With so much importance riding on winning the doubles point,
strategy is required in choosing doubles pairings. Ritt explained
that pairing players whose styles of play complement each other is
very important.

“We have so many options,” Ritt said. “We try
to come up with three very competitive teams, but the reality is
that we could come up with more than that.”

Ritt has experimented with a variety of doubles pairings so far
in the season. This flexibility is a testament to the depth of this
year’s roster.

Plaushines and Streifler, for instance, have played together all
year. The duo has won both of its matches of the season at No. 3
doubles.

“Our games complement each other really well,”
Streifler said. “I’m not afraid to come to the net if
(Plaushines is) up there with me.”

Streifler also explained that being aggressive and holding
nothing back have been key factors to the team’s doubles
success.

Ritt acknowledged that communication and chemistry are also
vital to a successful doubles pairing, which the
Plaushines/Streifler duo has heavily demonstrated thus far.

The doubles point will continue to be a huge factor in
Michigan’s upcoming home matches against Maryland and South
Carolina on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Though the doubles competition occurs at the beginning of each
dual match, the team is always aware of the impact of the doubles
point at the end of the day.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Ritt
said.

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