There was no sense of urgency surrounding the Michigan women’s tennis team this week before it headed into its final action before winter break.
If you happened to pass by the Michigan Varsity Tennis Center last week, you would have found eight athletes either practicing, jogging, or poking fun at each others’ game. Nothing out of the norm for the the team.
No matter where you find them, however, one thing is for sure: the Wolverines will be together. So although no Wolverine won the singles championship at the Arizona State University Thunderbird Invitational over the weekend, the camaraderie and positive atmosphere the team built up during the week will still remain.
The upside and significant improvement for the Wolverines came from doubles play over the weekend. The team finished with an overall record of 8-3. While showing great team chemistry during practices this week, all pairs seemed to play in rhythm.
“Of course as coaches we try and put personalities that complement each other together and the closeness of our girls helps,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said.
The dangerous duo of junior Tania Mahtani and senior Chisako Sugiyama posted a 3-0 record against three Pac 10 teams. The other tandem of sophomore Denise Murasan and classmate Whitney Taney went 2-0 before Denise was paired with senior Lindsey Howard on Sunday. Sophomore Rika Tatsuno also concluded doubles play with a winning record.
On Friday, Sugiyama and Mahtani were seeded No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in singles competition. Mahtani had a disappointing outing, losing against California sophomore Rachael Dillon.
The second day of the tournament witnessed the upset of top-seeded Sugiyama. After completing two grueling matches the previous day, including a second-round marathon against Arizona State sophomore Micaela Hein (7-6 (2) 5-7 6-4), Sugiyama was upset in semifinal action by Armstrong Atlantic State freshman Sona Novakova.
“The other girls played as much as she did.” Bernstein remarked. “The girl she played did not have the same credentials, but it was tough competition throughout the tournament”
The six other Michigan athletes failed to make it past the first day of singles.
The team will now take a couple months off from competition, in which it will look to continue building the team chemistry that has aided its performances this fall. The Wolverines will be back in action on Jan. 17 at the Michigan Invitational.