The tension in the air was palpable as all eyes fixed upon center court.
With a win from senior Ronit Yurovsky, the No. 14 Michigan women’s tennis team would win its match against No. 24 Kentucky and guarantee a berth in the ITA Indoor Championship.
As the match reached a tiebreaker in the second set, Yurovsky’s teammates gathered on the courts around her and began to cheer louder and louder. The crowd at the Varsity Tennis Center made its presence heard as well, with shouts of encouragement.
When Yurovsky ripped off five straight points to win her match and give the Wolverines the dual-meet victory, the noise reached a crescendo.
The crowd erupted, and her teammates rushed onto to the court.
For Michigan, this is as much a part of the game as what actually occurs on the court.
“When I’m the last one on the court, it doesn’t feel like I’m alone because (my teammates are) all standing there,” Yurovsky said. “It’s huge having them cheering me on, and it makes the opponent even more nervous.”
Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein recognizes the importance of staying together as a team, and encourages her players to make an effort to cheer each other on, even while isolated in tight singles matches.
“I don’t want them to be on their own court,” Bernstein said. “I think it’s really important that as people play next to them that they show support. That’s the beauty of college tennis; it’s a team thing. Even if you’re struggling or doing well, you can still help the person next to you.”
Freshman Kate Fahey is appreciative of the support and also knows lending it is something she can work on.
“I’ve struggled with that a little in the beginning of the season because I’m not used to it,” Fahey said. “You’re not used to cheering on other people, but it really helps the team. When I get in a rut and I’m not winning a lot of points, cheering on my teammates helps me and takes my mind off my match.”
And though tennis is not as much of a spectator sport as football or basketball, Michigan has a distinct home-court advantage whenever it plays at the Varsity Tennis Center.
The Wolverines consistently draw fans at their competitions, and a certain group of fans attend almost every match.
“I’m not used to playing in front of that many people,” Fahey said. “The fans have been awesome. You see the same people here every time and familiar faces when you look up, and it’s just such a good feeling when you win a point because it’s not just you cheering for yourself, but also your teammates and fans.”
With three of its next four competitions at home, Michigan hopes to start its season strong in front of its fans.
“We’ve been pretty successful at home,” Bernstein said. “I think we get great crowds, and they definitely helped us through today. We’ve got another big match coming up next Sunday, so hopefully we get another big crowd again. The girls like playing at home in front of the home crowd, and today was no different.”