It was game, set, 101st match win for Chisako Sugiyama yesterday — the senior set a school record for most wins in a career.
The accomplishment overshadowed another successful day for the Michigan women’s tennis team, which beat Texas A&M 6-1 at the Varsity Tennis Center.
“This feels really good,” Sugiyama said through the Athletic Department. “I didn’t even know what the top mark was when I first arrived here, and I had no idea that I would even have a chance to match it or surpass it.”
During the match, it seemed like every spectator’s eyes were focused on Sugiyama, who surpassed former Wolverine Sarah Cyganiak on the all-time singles wins list. Sugiyama tied Cyganiak’s mark Sunday against Penn State.
“(Cyganiak) was an amazing player who did so many great things for Michigan,” Sugiyama said. “I’m just thrilled to even be compared to her. I have to thank all three coaches, the assistant coaches, the trainers and of course my team. I couldn’t have done it without all of their support.”
Sugiyama’s record-setting match was not without drama. After she jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead, her opponent, Morgan Frank, won consecutive games to seize the momentum and cut the deficit to one game.
In the ensuing game, Sugiyama charged the net and won on a slicing drop shot. Frank dropped her racket and looked to the sky, the match — and Sugiyama’s place in Michigan tennis history — all but sealed.
Sugiyama went on to win 6-4, 6-3.
“I knew (Frank) was going to be a good player, she made me work hard,” Sugiyama said. “She was the kind of player, I think, a year ago, I would have lost to.”
Frank was very vocal throughout the match, at one point yelling, “My grandmother could play better than me!”
Probably not — but Sugiyama tends to make players feel that way.
Though most of the afternoon was focused on Sugiyama, Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said the senior leader is all about the team.
“She wants to do well for herself, obviously, but wants to do well for the team, too,” Bernstein said. “When you have that combination and you’re a good competitor, good things are going to happen.”
And good things definitely happened for the Wolverines yesterday. They won the initial doubles point before Sugiyama took the court for her match.
The other five Wolverine victories were decided in two games apiece. By the time the Aggies got on the scoreboard with their lone point, the overall match was already decided. Michigan closed it out on a positive note in the No. 3 singles spot with sophomore Denise Muresan’s 6-3, 6-3 win.