The opening point of the contest came down to the No. 3 doubles slot.
The No. 1 and No. 2 doubles pairs for the Michigan women's tennis team and Michigan State split the opening two matches Saturday afternoon, leaving the crucial first point up for grabs. The Wolverines jumped out to a 4-2 lead with an early break on serve, but the Spartans broke back the following game and held serve to even the match at 4-4. Michigan junior Chiara Lommer and sophomore Bella Lorenzini broke the deadlock by holding serve and gained their second break of the match to seal the 6-4 victory.
“I think honestly, Bella and I just started playing together, but we just really rely on each other and are both super solid,” Lommer said. “I think that we really trusted each other at the end and we were really aggressive and positive. We just felt really confident.”
The in-state rivalry added emotion to the event and Michigan State appeared to have caught Michigan off-guard as the underdogs jumped out to early breaks in the other doubles matches.
However, Lommer wasn't fazed in doubles or later, winning her No. 4 singles match, 6-1, 6-1 over Spartan freshman Maja Pietrowicz.
“I think Michigan State really comes at us when they play against us,” Lommer said. “And I think we’re always ranked a lot higher, but because they’re coming at us and because a little bit of the rivalry it gets a lot more heated and tense.”
Lommer’s left-handed serve threw off her opponent, Pietrowicz, who fell behind early in both sets. At one point in the second set, Lommer held a 5-0 lead thanks to her aggressive play. Pietrowicz also struggled heavily with unforced errors throughout the match, missing several close-range shots at the net.
“I’ve actually been working on returning slice balls and I think (Pietrowicz) was slicing a lot especially on the run,” Lommer said. “So it was definitely super helpful because it felt like I was moving the ball around a lot better.”
After nearly every point Lommer won in her singles match, she let out a yell of triumph, setting the tone early and often. Lommer’s domination and calmness under pressure in the doubles match embodied the Wolverines' 6-1 win.
“Yeah the doubles are gonna be tight and I was really happy that (No. 3 doubles) actually played a really aggressive game to close it,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “So that was good to get that point. We don’t win that point there’s a little more pressure on the singles.
“(Lommer is) just a great competitor. She’s going to make you earn every point, she’s not going to give anything away and I’m assuming that’s what happened today.”