The Michigan women’s tennis team (1-0 Big Ten, 8-4 overall) had more to compete with Saturday than just rival Michigan State — it also had to battle a hostile road crowd that even cheered at the Wolverines’ errors. Michigan ended up fighting off both in a 5-2 win.
“We’re on the road — we don’t expect them to be cheering for us,” said Michigan coach Ronni Berstein. “The crowd was tough on us, and I think we showed some toughness to get through here today.”
Bernstein’s task of putting out a lineup was made tougher with freshman Kate Fahey still sidelined by a minor injury.
Bernstein thought she found the answer in senior Ronit Yurovsky and freshman Brienne Minor, who led the lineup as the No. 1 doubles team, but their connection seemed to be lacking as the Spartans dominated the matchup.
Michigan State controlled the match, and both Yurovsky and Minor showed frustration with each point. The duo eventually lost, 6-3.
Sophomores Alex Najarian and Mira Ruder-Hook, the No. 2 doubles team, were able to level the playing field by defeating Michigan State, 6-3. Both sides began the match trading games, but quick hands at the net and high intensity made the difference for Najarian and Ruder-Hook.
The winner of the No. 3 doubles match would clinch the doubles point and give either team an advantage going into singles play. Freshman Teona Velehorschi and junior Sara Remynse were more than ready for the challenge.
Michigan was up, 5-4, and serving for the match. Velehorschi produced a big serve that allowed Remynse to poach at the net and end the match, 6-4.
In singles play, if Yurovsky and Minor were affected by their doubles loss, they definitely didn’t show it. Yurovsky came out firing on all cylinders, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first set. Her power from the baseline couldn’t be matched by Spartan Erin Faulkner, allowing Yurovsky to finish her match first with a score of 6-1, 6-1.
“You have to come into singles with a totally different mindset,” Bernstein said, “you’ve got to let that doubles go whether it’s good or bad.”
Though Minor had to work a little harder for her win than Yurovsky, she stayed dominant for the duration of her match. After taking the first set, 6-3, Minor was eager to finish her match and she jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead.
After producing big serves all match, it was only fitting that match point was another big serve from Minor and a last-chance lob from Michigan State’s Davina Nguyen that landed out. Minor took the match, 6-3, 6-1.
Najarian secured the win at No. 4 singles for the Wolverines, winning, 6-2, 6-4.
Ruder-Hook was set on turning her match around regardless of what was happening on other courts. After dropping the first set, 6-2, she came back stronger for an impressive comeback victory, winning the final two sets, 6-2, 6-0.
The bottom of the lineup did not fare as well as Remynse and Velehorschi dropped their matches, 5-7, 6-4, 0-1 and 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, respectively. Fortunately for Michigan, their teammates were able to close out the match.
The Wolverines look forward to continuing conference play in front of their own rowdy home crowd in the following weeks with the next matchup against Indiana.