Even though this weekend’s results didn’t count toward their overall record, the No. 23 Michigan women’s tennis team played with great intensity and flare. The result: A great showing at the sixth annual Michigan Invitational.

The Wolverines walked away from the round-robin tournament with invaluable playing experience and impressive victories against some of the nation’s top competition.

The Wolverines squared off against No. 17 Duke, No. 47 Denver University, Miami (Ohio) and Michigan State this weekend at the University’s Varsity Tennis Center. After a solid fall, the team looked to get a few more matches under its belt as it approaches the start of the dual-match season.

On Friday, Michigan opened strong, convincingly taking all six singles matches against Denver in straight sets. Junior Chisako Sugiyama defeated Mallory Voelker 6-3, 6-4, sophomore Tania Mahtani beat Ute Schnoy 6-3, 6-3 and sophomore Tanvi Dudhela topped Mikele Smith 6-2, 6-0.

Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein was pleased with her team’s overall performance, saying the team showed off its depth in the tournament.

“Everybody on our roster can go out there and be competitive,” Bernstein said. “Our freshmen are very talented, and our returning players have leadership and prior match experience.”

Doubles play was especially noteworthy, as Michigan picked up two wins against Miami (Ohio).

During the tournament’s second day, Michigan doubles teams maintained their winning, picking up three matches from Denver. Junior captain Lindsey Howard and freshman Denise Muresan combined to defeat Annette Aksdal and Mikele Smith, 8-6, and the freshman duo of Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno edged Denver, 9-7.

Taney was the lone singles winner for the Wolverines Saturday. She defeated Melissa Mang of Duke 6-2, 6-2.

Going into Sunday, Bernstein emphasized the importance of finishing strong and carrying over the intensity and effort from the previous two days.

The Wolverines heeded their coach’s advice on day three going undefeated in six singles matches against Michigan State and Miami (Ohio). Freshman Kari Wig knocked off Michigan State’s Christine Milliken 6-1, 6-1, and freshman Rika Tatsuno defeated Marianne Eeleus, 6-0, 6-2.

“I had a rough start at the beginning of the invitational,” Tatsuno said. “But I just kept on being patient with myself, and eventually, I started to play well.”

Michigan capped off its successful day by taking two doubles matches from Duke.

Michigan finished with a combined record of 13-9 in singles matches and 7-5 in doubles. The invitational provided Bernstein with an opportunity to see what the Wolverines have to work on to compete with the upper echelon of the Big Ten.

This weekend’s tune-up allowed the veterans to get back into top playing form and offered the freshmen their first taste of big-time collegiate matches. The team is currently preparing for its dual match schedule, starting with a match against Vanderbilt Jan. 25 in Nashville, Tenn.

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