Fresh off a two-week recovery from an arm injury, sophomore Ronit Yurovsky had to jump into playing a lot of tennis this weekend. On Monday alone, Yurovsky won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Midwest Regional Doubles Championship and fought her way into the singles finals with two more three-set matches.
“Going into this, I had very low expectations,” Yurovsky said. “I honestly didn’t know if my body was going to hold up.”
It was a long and hard weekend for Yurovsky but her body did hold up. The 8-4 doubles win over Northwestern secured her and her partner, Sarah Lee, a spot at ITA’s National Indoor Tennis Championships in New York in November. And a two-hour match victory against DePaul’s Patricia Fargas (5-7, 6-3, 6-1) made Yurovsky one half of the first all-Michigan singles final.
Yurovsky battled back to win both of her quarterfinal and semifinal singles matches against Northwestern and DePaul, after losing the first set in both cases.
“I fought really hard,” Yurovsky said. “I hung in there. I easily could have just gave up, but I stepped up my game in the second set and that carried over to the third,” Yurovsky said.
Yurovsky’s lost sets were largely a result of her own mistakes. Frustration and repeated errors plagued her in the semifinal match. She repeatedly hit the ball into the net only to follow up one missed hit with another.
Yurovsky felt that if she lost a point, she was destined to lose at least one more.
“I tend to get really negative,” Yurovsky said. “Even if I just lose one point. I get too frazzled or angry, and it just goes downhill.”
The mental anguish showed when she buried her face in her towel after dropping two sets to DePaul’s three. That was when Michigan coach Ronnie Bernstein stepped in.
“I told her, ‘You can decide to mope around or you can turn this around,’ ” Bernstein said. “I knew that she could play much better than she was, and it wouldn’t take that much.”
The coach’s words breathed new life into Yurovksy’s game. She came back with a vengeance, finally stepping off the baseline and starting to control the game by forcing Fargas to chase the ball across the court.
“I was playing kind of scared,” Yurovsky said. “I wasn’t going for my shots, but then I started to relax and stepping in and that helped my game.”
Both coach and player understood the importance of mentality in a match. Yurovsky switched out her racquet mid-set because the loose strings were messing with her mentally, and as soon as she got a new racquet, the set began to turn around.
Bernstein has worked on positive body language with her team, stressing it as an aspect Yurovsky needed to improve on off the court.
“She wasn’t being as positive as she needed to be,” Bernstein said. “Especially with her body language, even though she was playing well. You need to accept the losses and hang in there.”
Yurovsky faced a rested teammate in the finals, All-American junior Emina Bektas, who had cruised to the finals with a two-set victory over another Michigan teammate. But underdog Yurovsky took a quick lead over Bektas in the first match, winning 6-1. The second set was more of the same problems for Yurovsky. By continuing to hit into the net, she lost confidence and lost the set, 6-1.
“It was me being lazy and not moving my feet,” Yurovsky said. “My games always been the same, and I just hit hard and flat and go for too much.”
But Yurovsky didn’t lie down and give the match away to her teammate. A five-game streak in the final showed that she was still a fearsome competitor and gave her the momentum to win it all.
Last year, Yurovsky failed to qualify for ITA’s National Indoor tournament and now she will be flying to New York to compete in not one, but two championships.