If you were anywhere near the Varsity Tennis Center on Sunday, you probably heard Kate Fahey shouting or hyping herself up, point after point.
If you weren't? Well, the Michigan women’s tennis team took a thunderous win 4-1 against Tulsa on Sunday.
The junior has undoubtedly been the voice of the Wolverines, both figuratively and literally. Fahey’s play and actions have a trickle-down effect on the team. As the No. 1 singles player for the Wolverines, whenever she is energized, the rest of the team is energized.
“She’s done such a great job at the top of the lineup,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “I feel like no matter who she plays, we have a good shot for the next point. When you have that at the top it gives everyone below you a lot of confidence.
“She’s getting off quickly against a good opponent, I think she’s a good competitor. Kate’s tough, it definitely helps us having her.”
Throughout both the singles match and doubles match, Fahey’s exuberant screams of “Let's go!” overshadowed the play of her opponents. Perhaps that was the point. Fahey’s chants, along with her blindingly fast volleys and lateral agility, are just some of the weapons in her arsenal.
“I mean, in the doubles and singles I use it to get me fired up and the whole team,” Fahey said. “If I hear someone else screaming ‘Come on!’ I know that it really fires me up so I think it really helps us all when we're loud together as a team.”
During the second set of her match against Tulsa’s No. 1 player Ksenia Laskutova, Fahey raced out to a 4-0 lead, but something wasn’t right. Laskutova took a game. Then another. The chants that filled the arena for so long turned to deafening silence and frustration. Regardless, Fahey found a way to persevere, taking the next two games in dominant fashion to win the match.
“I think looking at the scoreboard, I really wanted to get the point on the board for my team,” Fahey said. “So I knew I really had to dig deep here and win these few games and I pulled through mentally.”
Like any tool or weapon, Fahey and Bernstein know Fahey has to use her voice at the right time. While hyping her teammates and herself up is certainly beneficial, Fahey has to be careful to make sure she doesn’t give her opponent an advantage by letting her hear her discontent during a tough stretch in a match.
“Sometimes we try and bring it down a little bit, but she’s definitely got it under control,” Bernstein said. "It can be a problem and she can get a little too hyped up. When she can control it, she’s such a great competitor. She wants it so much not only for herself, but for the team.”
If Fahey can continue to control her voice, then the results will speak for themselves: There will be many more, much louder cheers coming from the top court and from Wolverines fans come postseason time.