While the weather in Michigan has just heated up, the No. 23 Michigan women’s tennis team has been red hot for weeks.
As the Wolverines (10-1 Big Ten, 14-9 overall) traveled to East Lansing to take on Michigan State (6-5, 15-8), they played their first match outside since early March — but didn’t skip a beat. Michigan notched the first four points to end the match and keep the Spartans off the board.
“We got to play outside, which was really good for us,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “I thought we came out focused and ready to play. We really have been playing well lately and it is coming at the right time of the season. We had a tough stretch in March but came together and really committed to playing hard and competing.”
With the Wolverines playing their final regular season match of the year, the most impressive player this season has to be junior Kate Fahey. Playing singles in the top spot all year was a big task, and Fahey delivered.
After dropping just three games against Michigan State’s Habiba Shaker, Fahey — who’s currently ranked No. 31 in the nation — secured her 25th win of the season. Even when the rest of the Wolverines struggled in the beginning of the year, Fahey remained the silver lining.
But Fahey no longer has to be the silver lining, as Michigan seems to be playing its best tennis of the year — even in unexpected places.
Coming into the weekend, freshman Alyvia Jones was on a six-match winning streak in the No. 4 slot, and the Spartans didn’t slow her down. Jones was the first off the court with a 6-1, 6-1, victory and, with senior Mira Ruder-Hook, helped clinch the doubles point for the Wolverines with a 6-2 win.
Ruder-Hook even notched a 6-2, 6-4, singles win of her own at No. 5 — sealing the match for Michigan.
“I am really proud of our team and how we finished the regular season,” Bernstein said. “We really competed during the Big Ten schedule, which we really embraced being a new season and opportunity.
“We have gained confidence with each match, and I am excited to watch the team compete next weekend at the Big Ten Tournament and hopefully into May with the NCAA Tournament. We still have a lot of tennis in front of us and we are hoping to peak at the right time.”
The result was what many expected from the Wolverines, and now that the regular season is over, they can focus on their postseason run. With the Big Ten Tournament on the horizon, Michigan is poised to fight for the title — and a rematch against the conference champions may be the only thing in its way.
The loss to Northwestern cost the Wolverines a Big Ten title, and the only kind of revenge Michigan is interested in is a Big Ten Tournament Championship next weekend.