The No. 14 Michigan women’s tennis team clinched its seventh consecutive trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships this weekend, as the Wolverines defeated San Francisco and No. 23 Kentucky en route to winning the ITA Kick-Off.
In Michigan’s sixth consecutive year hosting the event, home-field advantage at a particularly noisy Varsity Tennis Center helped the Wolverines breeze through San Francisco by a score of 4-0 on Saturday. In prior weeks, Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein pressured the Wolverines to cheer each other on to create a louder, livelier atmosphere.
Sunday, key victories by freshman Kate Fahey at No. 3 singles and senior Ronit Yurovsky at No.1 singles gave Michigan a 4-3 match victory over the Wildcats.
In doubles, aggressiveness at the net propelled No. 1 doubles pair freshman Brienne Minor and sophomore Mira Ruder-Hook and No. 2 doubles pair Yurovsky and sophomore Alex Najarian to easy 6-2 victories to earn the doubles point for the Wolverines.
In singles, Kentucky grabbed the first two points, taking a 2-1 match lead as Michigan’s No. 4 and No. 5 singles each fell in two sets, 6-1, 6-1, and 6-1, 6-4.
The Wolverines tied the score at 2-2 as freshman Brienne Minor won the No. 2 singles match, 6-2, 6-3.
The bottom of Michigan’s lineup continued to struggle, as junior Sara Remynse fell in the No. 6 singles match,1-6, 5-7, to relinquish the team’s lead to the Wildcats.
With the Wolverines down, 2-3, in the meet, Fahey displayed mastery in painting the line, taking victories in several long vollies and finishing off her opponent in the No. 3 singles match, 6-3, 6-4.
“It was definitely more pressure than I’ve ever felt,” Fahey said. “But I was thinking, ‘It’s either you or her, and it’s either Michigan or Kentucky going to indoors,’ so I had to step up and take it.”
After winning the first set, 6-0, Yurovsky found herself locked in a 6-6 tiebreaker in the second. With all eyes on her, Yurovsky outlasted Kentucky’s Aldila Sutjiadi to take the set and the match for Michigan.
Despite the pressure at the end, Yurovsky emphasized the importance of finding success in those types of situations going forward.
“I was shaking on the court,” Yurovsky said with a laugh. “But I think what got me through this match was how I fought and stayed in it and competed for every point.”
Despite not getting wins from every player, the weekend’s tournament was crucial for developing a sense of community among the Wolverines.
For Bernstein, finding accountability in a multitude of places as they did Sunday will be key for Michigan’s success going forward.
“For Brienne (Minor) and Kate (Fahey) to come through as freshmen in that situation, and Ronit (Yurovsky) clinching it when she knew it was on the line, that’s what we need to do,” Bernstein said.