Just three days removed from a tough home loss against North Carolina, the No. 20 Michigan women’s tennis team pulled out a tough win against No. 17 Notre Dame.
The Wolverines fell behind early, losing their first point in the doubles matches.
Lack of consistency plagued the Wolverines during the doubles matches, as the upperclassmen duo of senior Michelle Sulahian and junior Mimi Nguyen struggled in their volley game.
The third doubles team of sophomore Sam Critser and freshman Sarah Lee lost their 6-5 lead with a series of missed shots to give the Irish the doubles point.
But Michigan roared back in the singles matches, gaining points from Sulahian (6-4, 6-0), Critser (6-4, 6-3), and sophomore Brooke Bolender (7-6, 6-2) to take a 3-2 lead, needing only one of two from Lee and freshman Emina Bektas to take the match.
Tied 4-4 in the first set, Lee’s consistency allowed her to tilt the game in her favor.
“I was able to maintain my game plan and was able to play more patiently aggressive,” Lee said. “I stepped in more and started going for larger shots.”
Lee won her first set, 7-6, and continued to grind out Notre Dame sophomore Jennifer Kellner with long points. Lee won her second set, 6-4, to clinch the point for the Wolverines when Kellner shot a backhand just long.
“It was a big win for me,” Lee said. “Having just lost my first game of the season, it was good to get back as soon as possible and to win and regain my confidence.”
Bektas fought off a comeback from Notre Dame senior Shannon Matthews with a strong serve and powerful shots to win in three sets (6-1, 4-6, 6-4), giving the Wolverines a 5-2 victory over the Fighting Irish.
“We needed this one,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “We had just lost a tough one, so it was big that we came away with a victory against a ranked opponent.
“This could have gone the other way, our young players really stepped up and showed what we are made of.”
Michigan’s matchup against the Fighting Irish is its last regular-season nonconference game. The Wolverines will continue their quest to win a third-straight Big Ten Championship with 10-straight games against Big Ten opponents.
The win against the Fighting Irish could prove to be very important in their quest for a three-peat.
“This win is going to give us a lot of confidence going forward,” Bernstein said.