The Michigan women’s tennis team is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament — appearing in its 17thconsecutive Tournament this past weekend.
Back in March, the Wolverines may have never expected to get this far. They were stuck in the worst losing streak in head coach Ronni Bernstein’s time with the team, yet somehow turned their season around enough to win a Big Ten Tournament Championship.
With its spirits high and the momentum in its favor, Michigan traveled to Palo Alto, Calif. for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. After winning 13 of their last 14 matches, the Wolverines refused to be counted out. They dominated Hawaii in the first round, winning 4-0, but ultimately fell to Stanford in the second round, 4-0, ending their season.
“I am really proud of this team for turning it around this season,” Bernstein said. “There was a time we weren’t sure if we were even going to be at this point in the NCAA Tournament, but they found a way to get it done. I am excited about the future because we have a lot coming back and learned a lot this year.”
Michigan breezed through its match against the Rainbow Warriors — winning the doubles point and all the first three singles matches off the court.
The Wolverines had singles wins from junior Brienne Minor, freshman Alyvia Jones and senior Mira Ruder-Hook. Ruder-Hook had the clinching point after Hawaii’s Michelle Pits double faulted into the net, sealing the victory for Michigan to advance.
Saturday’s match was a much taller task against the sixteenth-ranked Cardinals. The doubles point had the opportunity to set the tone, and Michigan let it slip away from them.
The Wolverines and Stanford split doubles matches, turning all the attention to the No. 3 match. With both sides knotted at six, it was forced into a tiebreaker. Sophomores Chiara Lommer and Lera Patiuk jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but after a double fault, the Cardinals gained momentum — winning seven straight points to clinch the doubles point.
After that, Stanford couldn’t be stopped. It won five of the six first sets, with junior Kate Fahey being the only one to steal a set from the Cardinals. But in the end, even if Fahey’s match hadn’t been abandoned, it wasn’t enough. Minor, Ruder-Hook and freshman Bella Lorenzini fell in two sets to secure the shutout for Stanford.
“It was a tough draw for sure,” Bernstein said. “Stanford is always tough in the postseason, and we have just been unfortunate to keep seeing them in the NCAA Tournament these past few years. We knew it was going to be hard coming out here and trying to get past them.
“We had our chances today, especially in doubles but just couldn’t get it done. You need to have everyone when you play a team like that and we weren’t good in some spots today. We just needed to be solid up and down the lineup and weren’t.”
While the Wolverines team season has come to a close, the future is still bright. Fahey will appear in the NCAA Singles Tournament individually, an event her teammate Minor won last year. After an impressive season in which Fahey went 18-3 in the No. 1 spot, Fahey is expected to make a run this year.
And even further into the future, Michigan will return all but one starter next season and will hope to continue its success next year.