After suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Michigan State on Thursday, the Michigan women’s tennis team had to rebound and face the nation’s No. 3 team yesterday.
The Wolverines (1-4 Big Ten, 7-8 overall) took on Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C. and dropped their first nonconference match since February 16, falling to the Demon Deacons, 6-1. Wake Forest (3-0 ACC, 17-2) boasts three players ranked in the top 120 nationally, and the top doubles team as well.
“I was very proud of the team,” Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. “I think they were able to put their disappointment behind them and look ahead to their next match.”
Michigan’s lone victory in the match came at No. 3 singles, as sophomore Chrissie Nolan defeated Wake Forest’s Maren Haus, 6-3, 6-2. Nolan has accumulated at record of 5-2 at No. 3 singles this season, and is tied among Michigan’s active players for winning percentage.
“I didn’t feel any pressure,” Nolan said. “I won some crucial games at the beginning of the first set, and (the confidence) carried over into the rest of the match.”
The Demon Deacons’ Bea Bielik – the No. 1 singles player in the nation in singles as well being partnered with Janet Bergman on the top-ranked doubles team – demonstrated her talent as she and Bergan breezed past Michigan’s No. 1 doubles team of freshmen Michelle DaCosta and Leanne Rutherford 8-1. Bielik then defeated sophomore Kavitha Tipirnneni 6-2, 6-1 in singles play.
“Bielik was outstanding,” Ritt said. “The entire team is solid.”
Yesterday was the third match that junior Jen Duprez sat out due to a hip injury. She injured her hip during the match against Marquette in her No. 5 singles match, and it is unclear if she will be ready for this weekend’s action.
Filling in for her at No. 2 doubles was senior Jen Vaughn, who missed the beginning of the season with a hip injury of her own. Although she has returned to doubles action, Vaughn has yet to compete in a singles match.
Michigan wrapped up a two-week stint away from the Varsity Tennis Center, playing four road matches in three different cities. The road has neither helped nor hindered the team’s performance this season, as the Wolverines are 3-3 away from Ann Arbor. This past trip also resulted in a split record of 2-2. The Wolverines won twice in Milwaukee against Marquette and Tulane, but lost in East Lansing and Winston-Salem.
“I think we’ve responded well to the travel,” Ritt said of the longest stretch away from Ann Arbor this season.
Michigan returns home this weekend for three matches at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Hurricanes of Miami come to town Friday as the final nonconference matchup of the season, and then the Wolverines resume their Big Ten schedule by taking on Ohio State and Penn State.
Despite the team’s ninth-place standing in the Big Ten, Nolan is optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We still have half the Big Ten season left,” Nolan said. “I don’t think we should be discouraged already. We still have all of April, so we don’t need to feel bad about our losses.”