New classes, new books, new year – same strong Michigan women’s tennis team.

“Probably our biggest advantage this season is that seven out of the eight girls on the team have played for us before,” assistant coach Greg Novak said. “That’s a lot of experience which leaves us well prepared going into the season.”

This weekend in the Michigan Invitational, the Wolverines will play host to Kansas, Louisiana State, Eastern Michigan and Wisconsin. Held in Ann Arbor’s Varsity Tennis Center, the invitational will launch the team’s spring season.

But even though the girls are just coming out of their off-season, they are plenty warmed up and ready to hit the courts.

“I feel great about this team,” Novak said. “They all worked exceptionally hard in the fall – we have no weak players.”

Novak wasn’t lying when he said the team worked hard in the fall. Various members of the team have competed in two invitationals and three championships throughout the fall semester. After these events, sophmores Michelle DaCosta, Kavitha Tipirneni and junior Chrissie Nolan were ranked among the top-30 singles players in the Midwest. DaCosta and sophomore Leanne Rutherford were ranked in the top-15 doubles players.

The team, which was ranked No. 39 in the nation last season and tied with Illinois for fourth in the Big Ten, is hoping to do even better this year and this invitational will offer the girls a chance to see where they really stand.

“All of the teams are really strong,” Tipirneni said. “This match will be a good starting off point for the season. Even though our scores don’t count towards our team record, they count to us.”

After practicing hard over the break, the Wolverines are ready to get back in the swing of things this weekend.

“We are such a close team and are really excited for the season,” DaCosta said.

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