The Michigan women’s tennis team kicked off its 2016 fall season this weekend with just three players competing at the UVA Fall Invitational in Charlottesville, Va.
The Wolverines started the tournament with a sweep Friday, as sophomores Kara Hall and Alex Najarian and freshman Chiara Lommer all won their matches in two sets. Najarian gave up only one game each set.
But Michigan was unable to carry its success into the doubles matches. Lommer and Najarian were defeated by two pairs of players from Marshall and Utah by an eight-game pro-set score of 8-6 in each match.
Even though the Wolverines donned the maize and blue at the Invitational, they competed as individuals and didn’t accumulate team points.
“We have a certain number of dates that we have,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein, “and if we bring less than four (players) it doesn’t count as a team date. Everybody will basically play four events this fall, so we just had these three go this weekend.”
Saturday was another day of mixed results for the Wolverines. Najarian swept players from Old Dominion and Virginia to advance to her flight’s finals, while Hall was defeated by competitors from Virginia and Virginia Tech.
The tournament concluded Sunday, with Najarian taking on Old Dominion’s Borislava Botusharova in the flight’s finals. Botusharova proved too strong of an opponent for Najarian, and she fell 6-1, 6-1.
Hall and Lommer also competed Sunday in eight-game pro-set consolation matches. Lommer defeated Utah’s Jenna Chang, 8-1. Hall also participated in an 8-1 match, but Hall was defeated, 8-1, by Utah’s Alexia Petrovic. Hall and Najarian were also defeated by a duo from Virginia, 7-6 (2), in their flight’s consolation match.
“I think with Alex, even though she lost today, she played really well for the most part,” Bernstein said. “I think the biggest thing we really need to work on is our doubles. That was probably the area we could have done a lot better.”
Fall season losses aren’t all that bad for a team, though. Rankings and conference standings are based on results from the winter season — when dual matches occur — and the fall season is often used as a time for players to get back into the groove of things after a summer of inactivity. The fall season also allows for teams to figure out shortcomings before the winter season.
“The fall is great,” Bernstein said. “It doesn’t have the same pressure as it does team against team, so you just hope they can relax a little bit and work on some things. It gives us a good opportunity to work with the kids and get matches under their belt before we start in January.”