The old cliche about the glass being half full can be applied to sports. For the Michigan women’s tennis team, this saying could be related to their performance at the Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional Championship in East Lansing. Though the results were not completely there, the effort and progress certainly were.
In the singles draw, senior Debra Steifler advanced the furthest, losing in the Round of 16 to Minnesota’s Nischella Reddy yesterday. On Saturday, Steifler won both her matches in straight sets. She was down 3-5 in the first set of her first match against Notre Dame’s Brook Buck but kept her head in the game and came back to win the set 7-5. She took the second set 6-1. In her second match, Steifler easily dispatched Indiana’s Brianna Williams 6-1, 6-4.
Another player who shined in the singles draw was sophomore Allie Shafner. With a strong all-around game – including a hard serve, great groundstrokes and smooth volleying – Shafner really caught fire in the tournament. After winning three matches in the qualifying round to make it to the main draw of 64, she beat Michigan State’s Stephanie Kebler in three sets. But Shafner lost a hard fought match to Illinois’s Momei Qu in a third-set tiebreak.
“Allie really performed well and progressed throughout the tournament,” Michigan tennis coach Bitsy Ritt said. “A huge part of her game is heart and fight.”
Freshman Chisako Sugiyamo, senior Nina Yaftali and junior Elizabeth Exon also advanced past the first round in the singles draw. Sugiyamo easily beat Ohio State’s Julie Blackmore before losing to Northwestern’s Georgia Rose in straight sets. Yaftali followed a similar path. She beat another Buckeye, Caitlin O’Keefe, in straight sets, but could not get past Northwestern’s Alexis Prousis in the second round. Exon fell to Purdue’s Randi Schuler in a close three-set match after defeating Toledo’s Eunice Parvinci in straight sets. Ritt was pleased with the effort that all three put forth.
In the doubles draw, the tandem of Yaftali and Sugiyamo was the only team to make it through the round of 32. They won their first two eight-game pro-sets on Friday over teams from Bradley and Illinois. In the round of 16, they lost a to a Northwestern squad, 8-4.
The Wolverines’ next tournament -the Thunderbird Invitational – begins on Nov. 4 at Arizona State.