The No. 8 Michigan women’s tennis team has been riding a wave of success lately, and it doesn’t look like that wave is showing any signs of letting up.
It’s because the team has an astounding 13-3 record, without a single loss at home. It’s because the only schools the Wolverines have lost to are currently ranked inside the top five (No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 North Carolina, and No. 5 Miami, Fla.). It’s because senior Denise Muresan, defending Big Ten player of the year, just became one of three women’s tennis players in Michigan history to log 100 match wins.
“From the day (Muresan) came onto campus, she has been working hard,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said after practice Wednesday. “She sets a high standard for herself and is always working to meet that. She is a true competitor.”
Muresan is only four wins behind former Michigan player Chisako Sugiyama (2006-09), so she very well may set a school record for match wins before the end of the season.
But Muresan isn’t the only one ensuring that this Michigan team has an amazing season. There are now four Wolverines with more than 20 wins this season, and the team looks to continue its dominance as it goes on a two-game road trip this weekend, facing Minnesota on Saturday and Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Wolverines have been successful against the rest of the Big Ten, not dropping a dual match since 2009. But Bernstein isn’t taking the Badgers or the Golden Gophers lightly.
“We’re just hoping to continue competing hard and we’re going to take it one match at a time,” Bernstein said. “It’s going on the road with two Big Ten matches that are important, so we’re just going to take them one at a time and hope that we come out on top.”
Bernstein can hope for Michigan to come out on top, but the team might not even need her to. The Badgers have posted a respectable 10-6 record, but the Gophers are currently locked in a downward spiral, with a seven-match losing streak and a 4-10 record.
That being said, there’s always room for improvement for the Wolverines. There are some things that Bernstein believes the team should work on to put itself in a better position for victory this weekend.
“We have a new doubles team … we’re looking to continue to improve in the doubles and we’re going to work on it a little bit this week,” Bernstein said. “Also, getting more of a team effort … its not going to be three or four of the girls that are going to need to be successful, we need everyone on the court.”
Bernstein has a philosophy in not looking past the matches the team has right in front of it, but it’s not out of the question to start looking ahead to the Big Ten Championships.
Michigan notched the championship title last year with a perfect 10-0 Big Ten record, and is currently positioned at the top of the conference standings, poised to repeat last year’s success. The Wolverines also have only one ranked opponent left to face in No. 18 Northwestern.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt when last year’s Big Ten player and coach of the year are in Michigan’s arsenal.
But it’s important not to be too caught up in the wave of success this weekend, even against a team that might be considered a cellar-dweller. Michigan knows the here-and-now is what’s most important.
“We don’t look ahead, we don’t look back,” Bernstein said. “Every team that we’re playing is out to get us, so we need to be ready every day.”