Andrea Cerdan and Kari Miller face each other and pump a fist in the air, celebrating their play.
The Michigan women's tennis team earned a crucial doubles point against Northwestern on Sunday. Jose Brenes/Daily. Buy this photo.

The No. 23 Michigan women’s tennis team has been consistently strong in singles play throughout the season.

The doubles point, on the other hand, has eluded the Wolverines all year.

But on Sunday against Northwestern — in its last match of the regular season — Michigan secured the doubles point with two tiebreak wins, kickstarting a victory over the Wildcats.

“That’s usually a really strong point for (Northwestern), so it was big for us today,” Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. “It’s been one of our struggles this year … I’m proud of it. To win two breakers like that in tough conditions, it was definitely a boost for us.”

Getting there wasn’t easy. After Northwestern struck first with a 6-3 win at the No. 1 doubles spot, Michigan’s duos at No. 2 and No. 3 couldn’t afford to falter. Adding to that pressure, both pairs split their first two sets and faced off in tiebreakers, but they rallied to put the first point on the board for the Wolverines.

At No. 3, senior Anca Craciun and junior Nicole Hammond converted on their third match point of the tiebreaker for a 7-6 win. One court away, junior Andrea Cerdan and sophomore Kari Miller also entered a tiebreaker at No. 2, securing a win and the coveted doubles point with five straight points to end the match.

“We got a little nervous, tried to finish it out,” Craciun said. “We felt the finish line and that’s where we got a little shaky but I’m just so happy we were able to come through.”

Despite rallying to win the doubles point against Northwestern, Michigan has struggled to consistently capture the point throughout the regular season. The coaching staff has mixed up the duos numerous times trying to find the right pairings.

“We’ve moved it around and I think we’re getting better, the last couple weeks here we’ve been in them better,” Bernstein said. “Today, Northwestern’s very good in doubles, so it was good. Going into the postseason, hopefully we’ve figured it out.”

In addition to moving around pairings, the coaches have also emphasized the importance of retaining positive energy throughout doubles matches.

“That’s doubles,” Bernstein said. “It’s that energy and staying together and being positive, we’ve been working on that. Whether you win the point or lose the point, you have to be positive with your partner. I think we’re doing better with that too.”

That effort showed in Sunday’s doubles. Regardless of whether the Wolverines won or lost a point, they high-fived each other before resetting for the next serve and continued to cheer on their teammates.

“That’s one thing that the coaches preach a lot — staying together — especially in doubles when you have your teammate out there with you,” Craciun said. “So no matter what happens you’re hyping each other up and it’s gonna help you get the next point. It’s definitely an important part.”

Heading into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Michigan has a high ceiling but will need to find steady success in doubles play to stay competitive with strong opponents.

“In singles we’ve been very successful,” Bernstein said. “If we can start winning that doubles point I feel like we can hang with anyone in the country.”