Heading into the weekend ranked No. 10 in the nation, the Michigan women’s tennis team knew it would have to get past tough opponents at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. What it didn’t anticipate was a disappointing 1-2 weekend record.
Hoping to get four points against Georgia Tech just like it had done in an invitational to kick off the season, the Wolverines came up just short when it counted.
“We went in knowing they were a really tough team, but I think we took some confidence from when we played them in our invitational about a month ago,” said junior Kate Fahey. “We knew we could hang with them, but they honestly just played better (Friday).”
After an uncontested first day of doubles matches, when Michigan dropped the point to Georgia Tech, it came out with a different fire the next day. Facing No. 12 Auburn, the Wolverines took no time to make adjustments and get started on the right foot, claiming the doubles point with 6-0 and 6-1 victories.
“Obviously, the coaches were a little disappointed in our doubles, and we talked about it and realized it can only go up from here,” Fahey said. “We all played with no pressure. We played to win and I think that was the difference.”
However, Michigan was not able to keep its lead for long, losing tight matches at the last four singles positions. No. 6 Bella Lorenzini and No. 4 Mira Ruder-Hook dropped their final sets in tiebreakers, giving Auburn the two points needed for victory.
“(Mira) did a really good job. She went down 5-2 in the third set, but she really stayed tough,” Fahey said. “I heard (associate head coach Teryn Ashley-Fitch) tell her to be aggressive and keep going for her shots because that’s really her game and what she does well. The other girl just played a really good tiebreak.”
With one more match left against the host Wisconsin, Michigan faced the unusually disastrous prospect of a winless record. Its thirst for a win showed in the box score, sweeping Wisconsin, 4-0.
“We did have some fire in our belly after losing two in a row,” Fahey said. “We wanted to get some redemption and get one win from the weekend.”
Though this past weekend didn’t go as planned, Michigan is staying positive for the long conference season ahead.
“Indoors is always a great tournament to go to because you are surrounded by the best teams in the country, early in the season. It is like a preview of the NCAA Tournament,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “We would have liked to have gotten a few more wins, but it is a long season and we will have more opportunities to face some of the best teams in the country.
“We know what we need to work on and will continue to get better as this season progresses.”