This weekend was a roller coaster ride for the Michigan women’s tennis team.
No. 42 Michigan swept No. 37 Colorado 4-0 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but was shut out against top-ranked Stanford on Saturday. Although the outcomes were noticably different, both sophomore Michelle DaCosta and junior Chrissie Nolan agreed that the Wolverines were prepared for both matches.
“We had a good couple weeks of practice,” DaCosta said. “We were all ready, and very confident going into the Colorado match. We just had to put it all together.”
Michigan (14-10) came out strong from the start against Colorado, winning the first two doubles matches. The No. 1 pairing of DaCosta and sophomore Leanne Rutherford, dominated their first match 8-2, and Nolan and freshman Debra Streifler followed at No. 2 with an 8-4 win to clinch the doubles point.
“The doubles did a great job keeping us going,” Nolan said. “We won almost all of our first sets.”
The Wolverines didn’t stop there. Michigan cruised through the singles matches as well, getting straight-set wins from Nolan, Rutherford and junior Kim Plaushines. These three victories clinched the win for the Wolverines, giving them their first NCAA tournament win since 1997.
“Last year we lost in the first round,” Nolan said. “We learned a lot from that and everyone played much better this time around. Against Stanford there was no pressure. We put it all out there, but we knew that everyone needed to play their best tennis.”
The Wolverines never got started against the Cardinal, the region’s host. They lost two doubles matches 8-1 and 8-4, and then were swept in the first three singles matches. Michigan’s Kavitha Tipirneni, coming back from injury and playing the No. 4 singles spot, was up 6-4, 3-1 over Stanford’s Alice Barnes, ranked 11th in the country. The match, however, was abandoned after the Cardinal had clinched the win.
“We wanted to do our best to advance, but we at least wanted to end the season well,” Nolan said.
The loss to Stanford will be the last match of the year for the Wolverines, but there is a lot of hope for next season. The team finished 14-10, and the majority of the players are returning next year, including everyone from the top-six singles and top-two doubles spots.