The Michigan women’s tennis team faced the reality of its youth movement.

Brian Merlos
Junior Chisako Sugiyama brought veteran experience to the courts last weekend. (BEN SIMON/Daily)

With four freshmen on its roster, Michigan failed to pick up a single team point at both No. 34 Kentucky and No. 16 Vanderbilt.

Three of six singles matches went into third sets against Kentucky on Sunday, but Michigan was unable to pick up a win.

Doubles play, however, was a bright spot. Solid play from junior Chisako Sugiyama and sophomore Tania Mahtani resulted in the only doubles victory of the weekend, as the pair knocked off the 20th-ranked doubles pair of Carolina Escamilla and Christine Johnston, 8-5.

Junior Lindsey Howard and freshman Denise Muresan grinded out their match, but were beat 9-8(4). The loss prevented the Wolverines from picking up their first team point.

“We ran into two very good teams,” Howard said. “These were our first two matches, both of them away. We had to work out the nerves and the younger players had to get used to the college atmosphere.”

The Wolverines again failed to win team points facing a talented Vanderbilt squad Friday.

Sugiyama battled with Vanderbilt’s Catherine Newman to take the match into the last set, but was defeated 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

Muresan showed some grit as she picked up a win in the second set of her match, but then was edged in the third by Commodore Taka Bertrand.

The doubles team of Sugiyama and Mahtani battled but dropped a close one to Vanderbilt’s Newman and Bertrand, 8-7(5).

Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said several factors contributed to the Commodores’ sound victory over the Wolverines.

“We just lost to a better team,” Bernstein said. “It was our first match and we are very young, but that doesn’t give us an excuse. We just need to avoid costly errors, find ways to get the big points, and need the upperclassmen to step up.”

Howard, one of the few veterans on the team, acknowledged the team’s youth and team’s inexperience. But Howard said the team’s goal of winning the Big Ten tournament in April is still in reach.

In order to get to that point, the Wolverines need to work on their mental approach and gain some confidence, Bernstein said.

“There is definitely room for improvement,” she said. “We just need to focus on the things that we can control, have pride, and believe in ourselves.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *