The No. 14 Michigan women’s tennis team struggled with injuries during the fall season, with many lineup regulars unable to play.
But this weekend, with everyone healthy and back in the mix, the Wolverines showed little sign of rust, competing in their first tournament since the end of the fall season as they hosted No. 23 Georgia Tech, North Florida and Tennessee for the Michigan Invitational at the Varsity Tennis Center.
Led by strong performances from sophomore Alex Najarian and freshmen Brienne Minor and Kate Fahey, Michigan was able to win the majority of both its singles and doubles matches over the weekend.
Both Najarian and Minor won all three of their singles matches, while Fahey won each of her doubles matches.
“We got a lot of quality, tough matches,” Bernstein said. “They were put in a lot of difficult situations — you saw a lot of tiebreakers today and big points. Overall, I think it was the perfect weekend to get us ready for next weekend.”
Friday, the Wolverines got off to a sluggish start in doubles play, dropping three out of four matches against the Yellow Jackets, but Bernstein was unconcerned with her team’s slow start.
“With the new doubles (rules), everything happens pretty quick, so we just need to be ready,” Bernstein said. “We had new teams — a couple of the kids in doubles hadn’t played in the fall. After that first round, I had a feeling that we would be OK and that we’d settle down. I think as the weekend went on, the doubles definitely picked up.”
Michigan proved Bernstein right by improving from their inauspicious start to the tournament. The Wolverines swept Tennessee in three doubles matches before later winning all seven singles matches against North Florida to close out the first day.
Michigan continued its success from the previous day on Saturday, winning three of four doubles matches against the Volunteers and all three of its doubles matches against the Ospreys. The Wolverines continued the momentum forward, winning five of their eight singles matches against Georgia Tech.
The last day, though, proved to be the toughest competition for the Wolverines in singles play, as they split eight matches with Tennessee.
Minor was broken several times in the first set of her match against Sadie Hammond at the third singles position, but came back to win the first-set tiebreaker. She went on to win the second set, 6-3, to finish off her perfect performance over the weekend.
“I thought I did well in singles and doubles overall,” Minor said. “I’m feeling pretty good going into season.”
Both Fahey and Najarian were in similarly tough matches, as Fahey dropped a highly contested first set en route to a 5-7, 1-6 loss. Najarian, on the other hand, battled her way to a 7-6, 7-5 victory.
Bernstein was pleased with the mental toughness her team showed.
“You don’t always feel your best or play your best,” Bernstein said. “But you have to figure out a way to compete, and I think we did a good job of that.”
The Wolverines will look to continue their hot start next week at the ITA Kick-Off.
“I definitely think (this weekend) gave us some momentum,” Minor said. “I thought our whole team has been playing well, even though some of us lost. I think we’re all ready for the season.”