On St. Patrick’s Day, the No. 19 Michigan women’s
tennis team didn’t need the luck of the Irish — it just
needed to be back home. After dropping its first match of the
season in Alabama, the Wolverines returned to the Varsity Tennis
Center to cruise past Western Michigan 6-1 yesterday.
“I just love playing on these courts
—everything’s so normal,” freshman Elizabeth Exon
Exon and her doubles partner, senior Chrissie Nolan helped
Michigan (8-1) jump out to an early lead, dominating their match
8-2. The No. 43 first doubles pairing of junior Michelle DaCosta
and freshman Kara Delicata didn’t have it as easy and had to
battle back from a 1-4 deficit to come up with an 8-6 victory.
“When you get down that far at one, it’s tough to
come back and win — and they did,” Michigan coach Bitsy
Ritt said. “We just have to work at getting out to a better
start at one doubles and play with more energy.”
With the doubles point already sealed, the usually consistent
team of sophomore Debra Streifler and senior Kim Plaushines (No.
36) gutted out a 9-8 (7-4) victory.
“It was the first time we weren’t playing well
together,” Streifler said.
After sweeping doubles, the Wolverines picked up where they left
off. Delicata (6-3, 6-1), Streifler (6-4, 6-4), No. 67 Exon (6-3,
6-3) and senior Kavitha Tipimeni (6-3, 6-1) all won their singles
matches in straight sets. Junior Leanne Rutherford had to fight for
her victory after dropping the first set 4-6. She bounced back
after dropping a 6-1 second set and won the tiebreaker, earning
Michigan’s sixth point of the match.
The hardest-fought match featured two ranked players, as No. 99
DaCosta faced off against No. 95 Fredrika Girsang. Girsang jumped
out to a 5-2 lead in the first set when — just like in her
doubles match — DaCosta turned it on. She forced a
tiebreaker, but was unable to seal the deal, falling 3-7. The
second set was just as tight until Girsang broke DaCosta’s
serve late, winning the Broncos’ lone point.
As if homecourt advantage wasn’t enough, the Wolverines
had some extra supporters in crowd. A day after winning a thriller
against Missouri, three members of Michigan’s basketball team
were in attendance: Amadou Ba, J.C. Mathis and Dani Wohl.
“We are just going to go and give them support,” Ba
said. “Just like they did for us last night.”
With the decisive victory, Michigan managed to get right back on
the winning track. While the Wolverines came in with superior
talent, they avoided the trap of taking the Broncos lightly.
“(Western Michigan is) always competitive,” Ritt
said. “They are well-coached. They compete hard. Certainly
we’re deeper than they are, but to beat Western, you have to
go out and play well.”