Just a couple weeks after the Michigan women’s tennis team ended its season, Kate Fahey was back on the court. But this time, the junior wasn’t competing for the team, she was competing for herself. 

“It’s kind of different going from seeing your five teammates around you to looking at random players around you,” Fahey said. “Not having any teammates here, it was a little bit sad. It’s a little bit different, but it’s a tennis match, so it’s not too bad.” 

Fahey’s hard work and success from the fall and spring seasons earned her a spot in the NCAA Singles Tournament as the highest-ranked Big Ten player. But in the end, Fahey wasn’t able to advance past the first round and fell in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. 

Fahey opened the tournament on Wednesday afternoon, facing off against No. 3 Estela Perez-Somarriba from Miami — an opponent she can’t seem to get away from in the postseason. In last season’s singles tournament, Perez-Somarriba ended Fahey’s tournament in the quarterfinals. 

And while Fahey couldn’t change the result, she did give herself a fighting chance. With the score knotted at three in the first set, Perez-Somarriba broke Fahey’s serve and proceeded to win three straight games to end the set. 

Fahey needed to make an adjustment. 

“I think I stepped in, up in the court a little bit more,” Fahey said. “I was more aggressive and took time away from her. She’s not really a player that will make unforced errors, so I kind of had to force her to make some errors. I think I did a good job of that in the second set.”

Fahey jumped out to a 3-0 lead and looked poised to claim the second set. While Perez-Somarriba tried to get back into it, Fahey had too much of a lead. Braced with a 5-2 advantage, Fahey fell into a 40-0 hole but rattled off four straight points to steal the set. 

The match was even headed into the third set, but Perez-Somarriba ran away with a lead that Fahey never recovered from. Down 5-0, Fahey managed to scrape out one game from Perez-Somarriba, but after a long cross-court rally, Fahey’s ball landed in the net, and she fell 6-1. 

“At this tournament, everyone’s good,” Fahey said. “So you have to go into every match thinking it’s going to be a battle. I had played her last year so I knew she was a really good player, but I wasn’t intimidated.”

With an impressive junior campaign under her belt in which Fahey went 29-7 in the No. 1 slot, she is expected to have an even more impressive senior season. She made great strides in her game and continued to stay aggressive, something she is eager to continue next season. 

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