The 13th-ranked Michigan women’s tennis team set the tone early in its matchup against host Notre Dame on Friday, handily winning the doubles point while surrendering just three games across the top two doubles matches.
The No. 4 duo of sophomore Kate Fahey and junior Alex Najarian dominated 6-1, while the pair of sophomore Brienne Minor and junior Mira Ruder-Hook engineered a 6-2 win.
From there, the Wolverines (3-0) never looked back. They proceeded to a 6-1 rout of the Fighting Irish (3-1) for its first road dual meet victory of the season — their ninth straight against Notre Dame.
“Anytime we come to South Bend it’s always a tough match,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “They’re always competitive matches. The doubles point was huge for us to get. Notre Dame is usually very good at the doubles, so I was excited to get off the court pretty quickly with the doubles with the one point.”
The early momentum led the Wolverines to capture five out of six singles matches. No. 60 singles player Najarian bested her Fighting Irish foe 6-2, 6-2 for Michigan’s second point, a win Bernstein classified as “routine” for her third singles player.
Shortly after, Minor extended the lead to 3-0. Coming off a Big Ten Athlete of the Week nod, the 80th-ranked singles player swept the first five games of the first set and went on to decisively defeat Notre Dame’s 92nd-ranked Brooke Broda, 6-1, 6-3.
And when Fahey — the nation’s No. 20 singles player — easily took a 7-1 tiebreaker in the second set to cap off a 6-1, 7-6 win, the Wolverines clinched the overall match victory with its fourth point. The top three singles matches had all won in straight sets.
Notably, Valeria Patiuk notched her first dual match triumph at Michigan in the No. 6 singles spot. After dropping the first set 1-6, the freshman rallied with impressive 6-1 and 6-2 finishes in the ensuing sets. Patiuk just recently came to Ann Arbor from Tel Aviv after serving in the Israeli army. Her rapid adjustment supplies depth at the bottom of the rotation.
“(Patiuk) is a great competitor,” Bernstein said. “Since she’s arrived on campus — and it’s tough coming in January — she’s getting better and better every week, every day and every match. I’m excited about her progress. She just competes so hard out there.”
Ruder-Hook solidified the landslide with an identical scoresheet as Patiuk for the Wolverines’ final point of the contest.
“We’re competing hard everywhere and I think that’s such a huge part of college tennis,” Bernstein said. “I’m just happy where we are.”