The doubles point set the scene for how the rest of the match would play out:
Graduate student Chiara Lommer and freshman Jaedan Brown took care of business at the No. 1 doubles pairing, 6-0. On the next court over, freshman Kari Miller and sophomore Nicole Hammond suppressed a comeback attempt by the Boilermakers, winning their set 6-3 after the lead narrowed to 4-3 at one point.
In the Michigan women’s tennis team’s (13-2 overall, 13-1 Big Ten) 6-1 victory over Purdue (5-9, 5-9), the Boilermakers’ comeback attempts proved mostly symbolic, not fruitful.
In the tightest of the first sets for singles, freshman Gala Mesochoritou faced Rut Gilando at the No. 5 spot. Knotted at 4-4, Mesochoritou initially struggled to pull away in the first set, though all her teammates had no such trouble. But, up 5-4 in a winner-take-all game point situation, she found her metal.
Shot after shot flew over the net in an extended rally, as neither wanted to make the first move and give up the point in windy conditions. But then Mesochoritou pounced, ripping a shot down the line, forcing Gilando to simply try to return it. With her opponent on her heels, Mesochoritou hit a forehand across the court and Gilando could only watch as the ball sailed beyond her racket.
Mesochoritou would end up winning the match 6-4, 6-1.
“It’s kind of like getting her going because once she goes, she hits another gear,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “She sort of sleeped out that first set, she was … in and out. It was more kind of her errors.”
The lone loss in the first set, and lone loss in the match, came from the No. 2 pairing, where sophomore Andrea Cerdan lost to Csilla Fodor 6-2, 6-3 in a frustrated game riddled with unforced errors.
The court next to hers saw the first singles match to end on the night, when freshman Merri Kelly beat Zeynep Ozturk 6-2, 6-2. For the past two weeks Kelly sat out the singles matchups in favor of Hammond, but she steamrolled her opponent after returning to action on the court.
“She was the first one off the court, right,” Bernstein said. “And, you know, putting the second point on takes pressure off the others. She’s played five or six matches for us already and done a good job. I feel like we’re super deep, so whoever I put at six, we’re gonna have a good shot. I just wanted to give her an opportunity today.”
The second sets proved tighter for most of the Wolverines, at least early on. But almost immediately Michigan’s class pulled it away from Purdue to secure the match, with Lommer’s 6-0, 6-2 win over Zala Dovnik securing the fourth point and the win.
Only Brown faced the possibility of extending to three sets, down 4-2 in the second. The difference disappeared as she won two points in a row in commanding fashion before finishing off Seira Shimizu 6-1, 7-5 in two sets.
Shimizu’s attempt to snag an individual win, much like her attempt to win a doubles match, fell short. As did the rest of Purdue’s surges, with the Wolverines proving too much for the Boilermakers to handle.