The Michigan women”s tennis team suffered a rude awakening yesterday, causing it to fall back down to Earth. But eventually it had to happen. After shutting-out their previous two opponents 7-0, the Wolverines lost two of their three doubles matches, causing them to surrender their first point of the year.
But not all is lost. Michigan was able to come back and defeat DePaul 4-3 behind the stellar play of the four, five and six singles spots. Also key to this victory was Sandra Fuzesi”s game-deciding match against fellow eastern European native, Kadi Hilpus of Estonia. With the rest of the matches complete, every player stood on the sideline watching and cheering on their teammate. Fuzesi won her match 7-6 (3), 6-4 by stifling a late Hilpus rally.
“It feels good to help the team win,” Fuzesi said. “I didn”t know (the team score) until my opponent won two-straight games and the score was 5-4 in the second set. I was playing a little slower at the time, but when she told me it was 3-3 I realized the team needs it so I hurried to finish up the match.”
Fuzesi played very strong and forced her opponent to make several errors, hitting every shot with a purpose. It was obvious when she found out the team score. Not wanting to have to play two more sets or another tie-breaker, she stepped onto the court on a mission. She went about breaking Hilpus” serve in surgeon-like fashion, winning a long volley at the net on the first point then forcing two unforced errors before winning the match on a second service.
“She does not give you any easy points,” Hilpus said of Ruzesi”s performance. “That makes defeating her much harder. It is also the difference between good players and bad ones good ones never give you anything easy.”
The win was especially sweet for Fuzesi, not only because she was a major contributor to the victory but also because her older sister went to DePaul and she was considering attending the school.
“This win gave the team confidence and demonstrated that each of the six positions in the singles are equally important they all count the same,” coach Bitsy Ritt said.
On a day when some players did not have it, composure was the
difference between a win and a loss. The Wolverines played from behind after Kavitha Tipirneni and Jennifer Vaughn lost a close doubles match 9-7 causing Michigan to lose the lone doubles point and fall behind 1-0. It was the first time Michigan had ever trailed an opponent this year.
The team did not lose its composure and remained positive through the intermission between doubles and singles.
This positive thinking allowed Michigan to approach singles play with a “can win” attitude.
Michigan got key contributions from its lower-seeded players, allowing it to win the match. Kivetha and Christine Nolen, the top two seeded players on the Wolverines struggled in their rematches. They had both defeated their opponents during the fall in the ITA Championships but were unable to repeat their earlier success.
Laura Taylor and Szilvia Kelemen “remembered what happened to them in the fall,” Ritt said. “They had a great amount of desire which is not to say we didn”t want to win we did. They just played a bit better than we did.”
“We were on a mission this weekend,” Kelemen said.