The 1989-90 season was the last time the Michigan women’s
tennis team had a 7-0 record to start off its season. But streaks
don’t always last.

The 17th-ranked Wolverines suffered their first loss of the
season against No. 37 Alabama yesterday, as they fell 4-3 at UA
Outdoor Rec Courts.

“Even though we didn’t win the dual match today, we
actually competed well,” Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said.
“It was a match that could have gone to either team. We just
came up a little short in singles, but we played well against a
good team outdoors.”

Despite playing outdoors, the Wolverines (7-1 overall) said
their character grew because of the loss to Alabama (8-4).

“We learned that we can compete against a very competitive
team on the road, outdoors,” Ritt said. “Traditionally,
we have been known as an indoor team, and a lot of our good wins
this year have been wins at home. So we know that we are close to
beating a good team on the road. There are a lot of positives to
take away from the match.”

In the loss, Michigan received positive play from No. 36 doubles
tandem Kim Plaushines and Debra Streifler. With Kavitha Tipirneni
and Leanne Rutherford capturing a close doubles match 9-8,
Plaushines and Streifler sealed the doubles point by winning their
match 8-3.

Both Streifler and Tipirneni went on to win their singles
matchups, but they were the only Michigan singles winners on the
day.

Despite respectable singles rankings, No. 67 Elizabeth Exon and
No. 99 Michelle DaCosta both lost in straight sets. DaCosta fell to
No. 50 Robin Stephenson, Alabama’s only ranked singles player
7-5, 6-2.

Michigan also faced a two-week layoff between matches, but the
Wolverines still felt ready for the match.

“I really don’t think (the two-week layoff)
contributed to the loss today,” Ritt said. “We had two
weeks off, but we practiced well and we were ready to play today.
It really was not a factor.”

With the Wolverines’ upcoming matchups, Michigan’s
season will see a complete change of pace. Michigan will now face
Western Michigan, Marquette and Michigan State in the next week and
a half.

“We are fit,” Ritt said. “We trained hard in
the off-season and we have a good balance of cardio work.
We’ll be ready to play. Tennis players are used to playing
back-to-back days and spending a lot of time on the court. I think
we are really ready for this portion of the season where we have a
lot of matches in a short period of time.”

The Wolverines will look to respond to their first loss of the
season when they played against Western Michigan on Wednesday,
something that they have not had to do all year.

“Western is a really well-coached team, and they always
fight hard,” Ritt said. “If we can put this loss behind
us and have a good practice on Tuesday, we’ll be ready to go
on Wednesday. Western Michigan will be a very competitive
match.”

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