The wheels on the No. 9 Michigan women’s tennis team just keep on rolling.
The Wolverines defeated Wisconsin (0-7 Big Ten, 4-12 overall) on Friday and Minnesota (2-4, 10-9) on Sunday. With the wins, the Wolverines remain perfect in Big Ten play, and now have six consecutive wins (5-0, 13-3).
The Golden Gophers saw a glimpse of hope after winning the doubles point in dramatic, tie-break fashion. But the Wolverines quickly thrashed any confidence that Minnesota may have had, winning every singles match to take the 6-1 victory. After beating Wisconsin on Friday, 4-0, Michigan impressively dropped only one match on the weekend.
“We work on the doubles, and we take pride in our doubles,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “But with the format, it’s tough to win every doubles point.”
Singles play has been a strength for Michigan this year. With the wins this weekend it has improved to 20-1 in conference action. The team looks strong from top to bottom led by sophomore Brienne Minor in the No. 1 spot for the weekend. Minor appeared confident on the court and bounced back after losing the second set, to take the win 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.
“I think we are solid all the way down,” Bernstein said. “We have a shot one through six, and I don’t know if we’ve had that all the time in years past, so I feel like we have a really solid singles lineup.”
Junior Alex Najarian proved her coach’s point, providing stability at the No. 3 spot. Najarian’s net play was flawless, and she used it to capitalize on two break-point opportunities, allowing her to take the first set, 6-3. After trading leads in the second set, Najarian broke serve to ignite a two-game swing, taking a 6-5 lead by winning a crucial deuce point. Najarian secured the victory for Michigan by winning her match in a tie break 6-3, 7-6(2).
Najarian was conscious about the different weapons she used on the court in Sunday’s matchup, and although her serve was not up to her own standards, she managed to get the job done.
“Usually (it’s) my serve, but today it wasn’t very on so then I rely somewhat on my backhand and my volleys, just not my forehand,” Najarian said with a chuckle.
The Wolverines continue to improve as their season nears the heart of conference play. Taking one matchup at a time seems to be working, as they continue to ride their unbeaten streak. Yet Michigan will be on the road for three straight away matches, which could be a test of the strength of this talented team.
Bernstein, though, doesn’t seem overly concerned.
“We have a tough weekend coming up with three on the road, but I feel like we have played a really tough schedule,” Bernstein said. “The goal is obviously to get better and peak in May, so I think we are headed in the right direction for sure.”