Senior Kate Fahey bounced the ball on the court once. Twice. Three times. She brought the ball to her racket, then tossed it straight up, high into the air. She jumped off the ground as she swung her racket down, smashing the ball into play. Junior Bianca Turati of Texas sent it hurtling back in Fahey’s direction.
The ball shot back and forth across the court, soaring over the net. The only sounds in the Varsity Tennis Center were the bounce of the ball on the ground, the grunts from the players, and the resounding pop while the ball flew off their rackets as the crowd waited in hushed anticipation for the rally to end.
Finally, it did. Fahey sent a long forehand hurtling across to the far corner of the court, and Turati put the ball into the net, handing Fahey the win. Fahey’s scream of victory and the cheers of the crowd echoed off the walls of the Tennis Center as Fahey’s teammates rushed the court to envelop her.
After mixed results last weekend — in which the Wolverines shut out No. 12 Ole Miss but fell to No. 24 Syracuse — Michigan’s aggression in pivotal moments and close-knit team dynamic helped turn the tide for the No. 9 Wolverines on Sunday, as they pounded out a decisive 6-1 upset victory.
“It’s not really about one player, it’s about everybody, and that’s who we were today,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “We were good in the big moments, and that’s what we needed to be.”
Michigan was dominant in singles play, losing only one match and taking all of the five matches they won in straight sets. Fahey beat Turati 6-2, 6-3; Senior Brienne Minor defeated Anna Turati 6-4, 7-5; Junior Giulia Pairone won 6-4, 6-4; and sophomore Alyvia Jones grinded out a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Tijana Spasojevic.
The doubles matches were also a triumphant moment for the Wolverines, as they clinched the doubles point on a victory from their No. 3 pair, sophomore Bella Lorenzini and junior Chiara Lommer, who also clinched the doubles point for Michigan on Saturday over Michigan State. Fahey and Pairone defeated Bojana Markovic and Fernanda Labrana 6-3 and Jones and Minor fell to Turati and her twin sister, 6-3.
“I’m really happy for our No. 3 doubles, being able to clinch it for us both nights,” Bernstein said. “They really stepped up for us.”
After the disappointing loss to the Orange last week, the victory over a highly-ranked team was even sweeter.
“There are expectations that this team could be really good, and when we come in and beat a Texas like this, that’s really encouraging,” Bernstein said. “We just have to bring it like this every day.”