The Michigan women’s tennis team wasn’t dealt the easiest hand this weekend, as it traveled to New Haven, Conn. for the National Indoor Championships. They began play against No. 1 Florida on Friday, and unfortunately for the 13th-ranked Wolverines, ended up in the consolation draw after the first day of action.
Michigan clinched the doubles point to start off the match, which is normally a good sign. The third-ranked doubles team of sophomore Kate Fahey and junior Alex Najarian gave the Wolverines the edge after coming back from a 3-0 deficit to force the set to a tiebreaker – eventually winning, 7-4.
Michigan hoped the drama of securing the doubles point from the top-ranked team would carry into its singles play, but that was not the case.
Fahey and sophomore Brienne Minor were the only Wolverines to win their first sets, and it wasn’t long before Florida retired four consecutive Michigan players to notch the 4-1 win.
“They seed eight teams, and after that it’s just sort of random,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “I guess it was kind of bad luck to hit Florida, but you want to play the best teams, and I feel like we did that this weekend.”
Though the Wolverines fell in their first match of the tournament, they weren’t done yet. They moved into the consolation draw where they played No. 8 Vanderbilt, and this time, they earned the 4-1 upset.
Michigan once again won the doubles point but didn’t need Fahey and Najarian to do it. The No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams both won their matches, 6-4.
The highlight of the match was Minor defeating No. 4 Astra Sharma easily in singles play, winning, 6-3, 6-0. Minor and Fahey trade off playing in the No. 1 position, but both have been impressive for the Wolverines so far this season.
No. 26 Fahey won her match again No. 8 Sydney Campbell, though hers took a little more effort. She eventually closed out her match, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
“We’ve got two sophomores winning at the top of the lineup,” Bernstein said. “The future’s bright since we’ve got them for this year and two more, so I’m excited about that.”
Fahey and Minor once again led Michigan to a victory in their final match of the championship against No. 15 Texas A&M, where the Wolverines defeated the Aggies, 4-2.
Fahey was the first one off the court at the No. 1 singles position. After she won the first set in a tiebreaker, 8-6, Fahey easily dusted off her opponent, 6-3, in the second set.
Minor put Michigan up 3-0 after she defeated her opponent in three sets, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
After losses from Najarian and freshman Chiara Lommer, it was a race between junior Mira Ruder-Hook and freshman Valeria Patiuk to see who could clinch the victory for the Wolverines.
In the end, Patiuk prevailed in the No. 6 singles position, finishing off her opponent, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3.
After a rocky start, Michigan salvaged the tournament with multiple impressive wins. Its season is just beginning and the experience gained from this tournament will help propel it towards its ultimate goal — winning a national title.
“It just shows us that we can play with anybody,” Bernstein said. “Here you see the best teams in the country and the last two days we battled hard against two of them, so we’ve just got to keep getting better.”