With Penn State and Ohio State traveling to Ann Arbor, the No. 3 Michigan women’s tennis team needed wins against two of its most storied rivals in order to build a cushion on its Big Ten lead.

Instead of coming up short in the big moments, the Wolverines (7-0 Big Ten, 17-3 Overall) stepped it up a notch and are sitting atop the conference even more comfortably now, after shutting out the Nittany Lions 7-0 on Saturday and then dominating the Buckeyes 6-1 on Sunday.

The two much-needed victories showed that Michigan is the clear-cut favorite to win the conference and potentially threaten for the top national ranking.

“To be honest, I don’t think that we expected to be in the top five,” Michigan junior Denise Muresan said. “We knew that we had the ability to beat every team that we play, but we didn’t know if we could put it all together. After these wins and beating Northwestern, I definitely have the confidence in our team to win Big Tens.”

Penn State didn’t do much other than show up in the weekend’s first matchup. The Wolverines dominated from the get-go, sweeping the three doubles matches to take the first point.

The Nittany Lions only managed to win four games in those three doubles matches combined.

Michigan then kept its fist on the gas pedal, winning all six singles matches in straight sets. Penn State only saw a single set finish closer than 6-2.

The next day, the Buckeyes at least made the Wolverines break a sweat.

Ohio State opened the match firing on all cylinders, jumping up by an early break at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, and by two early breaks at No. 1.

But despite the early deficits and a boisterous Buckeye cheering section, Michigan turned things around quickly, with juniors Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno taking No. 1 doubles and Muresan and senior Tania Mahtani winning at No. 3, both by 8-5 scores.

Freshman Mimi Nguyen and sophomore Michelle Sulahian couldn’t pull out their match at No. 2 doubles, but it didn’t matter, as the Wolverines took the doubles point and the early 1-0 lead.

Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein attributed much of the team’s success to its strong doubles play. The Wolverines are 17-2 when winning the doubles point — a feat they have accomplished in 14 consecutive matches — and are 20-1 in Big Ten doubles matches.

“I think it gives the girls confidence,” Bernstein said. “We are really disciplined in our doubles play. They don’t panic because we put them in so many different situations in practice. When they are confident, like they are right now, it carries over into matches. We got really good starts on all the courts and just went from there.”

Despite the lopsided score, the singles wins didn’t come without difficulty either.

With Nguyen’s match deadlocked at 4-4 in the first set, neither team had taken control of the majority of singles matches. Nguyen then played an exhausting game lasting as long as an entire set, saving game point after game point, finally prevailing with the break and the 5-4 lead.

The crowd erupted after Nguyen’s break, and she and the Wolverines started clicking from that point on. She cruised to an easy 6-4, 6-4 victory — her 12th in a row — and was joined with straight-set wins by Tatsuno and Sulahian. Mahtani also came back from a set down to take her match.

Muresan won in three sets — her ninth consectutive singles victory — improving her record to 30-10 on the year.

With the victory, Michigan extends it Big Ten conference lead over Northwestern. The Ohio State triumph was the Wolverines’ 100th victory at the Varsity Tennis Center and their 11th in a row.

“We are playing so well because we’re putting out a great team effort and battling on every single court,” Bernstein said. “I can’t attribute our success to any one player, but we really have great chemistry and that’s a big reason why we are one of the top five teams in the country.”

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