The Michigan women’s tennis team has made it to the final round in every year of the Big Ten Tournament since it began in the 2008-2009 season. However, it has only been able to win the tournament just once, in 2015.
On Sunday, the 11th-ranked Wolverines were defeated in the championship match once again, falling 4-2 to No. 5 Ohio State.
Michigan (10-1 Big Ten, 20-6 overall) had opportunities to come out on top, but lost close matches in key situations.
The first of these close matches came in the No. 2 doubles match. With the Wolverines and Buckeyes (11-1, 20-7) splitting the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches, freshman Kate Fahey and sophomore Alex Najarian played in a back-and-forth matchup with the No. 56 doubles pairing in the country, and forced a tiebreak. However, Michigan’s pairing was unable to finish on top, losing the tiebreaker 7-5, and the match 7-6.
“I like what I’m seeing from them,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “I think they just got a little nervous at the end. But they actually looked good together because (Fahey) from the ground sets (Najarian) up, and she can move.
“I thought that we needed to steal the doubles point, and somehow get that point and put pressure on Ohio State, because (it was) going to be tough to win four singles (matches).”
The second tiebreaker came at the No. 1 singles matchup between senior Ronit Yurovsky and Ohio State’s Francesca Di Lorenzo. Despite losing the first set 6-2 and going down 5-3 in the second set, Yurovsky was able to battle back to tie the set at 6-6. But once again, the Buckeyes were able to come out on top as Di Lorenzo won the tiebreaker 7-3.
Though the match gave the fourth and deciding point to Ohio State, Yurovsky’s ability to prolong the match allowed Najarian and sophomore Mira Ruder-Hook to win their matches and score two points for the Wolverines before the end of the match.
“We’re going to need that (fight).” Bernstein said. “I just told them, now let’s get ready for the (NCAA Tournament). There’s still a lot that we can do. I have a lot of respect for Ohio State, and their team. I think they’re one of the best in the country, and we were right there with them today. So if we play like that and fix a few things at other positions, I think we can be a tough team to beat.”