It was never in doubt that a Michigan women’s tennis player would win the Wolverine Invitational.
It was just a matter of who it would be.
Sophomore Chisako Sugiyama fought to defend her 2005 Wolverine Invitational title against upstart freshman Tania Mahtani, but Sugiyama came out on top for her second straight title.
The duel was never close. Sugiyama dominated the match the same way she did the rest of the tournament, securing the championship with a 6-3, 6-4 straight-set victory. Sugiyama delivered a number of precise shots that often baffled her opponent in an intense outdoor atmosphere.
“It’s really hard to play a teammate,” Sugiyama said. “But sometimes it has to be done”
Sugiyama never lost a set in the entire tournament, putting together decisive victories as she disposed of Marquette’s Shannon Brown, (6-2, 6-0) Kentucky’s Christine Johnston (6-1, 6-2) and Mississippi’s Nika Koukhartchouk (7-5, 6-4). She was also an impressive 2-1 in doubles play with wins in her Friday and Saturday matches.
“Chisako worked hard over the summer,” Michigan coach Amanda Augustus said. “She had a successful year last year, and I think she’s excited and wants to have a good season.”
Both Sugiyama and Mahtani played doubles matches earlier in the day, but their fortunes were reversed. Mahtani and teammate Allie Shafner defeated Kelly Donovan and Elly Strother of Marquette while Sugiyama and Tanvi Dudhela lost to Lauren Little and Kylie Moore, also of Marquette.
“From the way I played in the doubles, I knew I had to step it up and mix things up for the singles,” Sugiyama said.
And the team followed Sugiyama’s lead. Senior Elizabeth Exon finished 3-2 in singles play and freshman Tanvi Dudhela finished 2-2. Overall, the team was an impressive 15-4 in singles play and 6-1 in doubles competition. The stats are even more impressive given that the Wolverines were without two top players.
Seniors Kara Delicata and Jenny Kuehn will compete in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Los Angeles. The duo will play in the 32 team doubles draw, which begins Tuesday, while Kuehn will also represent Michigan in the singles bracket beginning Thursday.
The next team competition for the Wolverines is the ITA Midwest Regional Championships in East Lansing. The event will take place from Oct. 19 to 24.
The Wolverine Invitational was the first test of the season for the women’s team. The Wolverines hope to repeat last season’s success, when they finished with a 17-8 overall record and a second place finish in the Big Ten.