The Michigan women’s tennis team wrapped up its spring season with something the program never had before — a national singles champion in sophomore Brienne Minor.
This weekend, the Wolverines dealt with the challenge of launching a new campaign after their unprecedented season. And though there is room for improvement, Michigan demonstrated its potential to duplicate the spring’s magic.
Freshman Bella Lorenzini’s collegiate debut epitomized this potential. Lorenzini stepped up in her first invitational, commanding three of her four singles matches and sweeping her three doubles sets.
“Bella did great,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “She’s come in and really done a good job as far as her work ethic goes. She fits in well, works really hard, and brings intensity every day. It was good to get her out there and used to the college format.”
Lorenzini got her introduction to the collegiate tennis climate at the Big 5 Challenge, the commencement of the Wolverines’ fall, individual-scoring season. Texas Christian University hosted Michigan, along with Texas Tech, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Arizona State in the three-day invitational over the weekend.
Bernstein selected the invitational to kick off the Wolverines’ fall action because of the quality of the competing teams — the Red Raiders, Bulldogs and Gamecocks all finished their 2017 spring seasons ranked in the top 15 in the nation.
In addition to Lorenzini, junior Kate Fahey had a stellar outing of her own. It was a return for her, as a lower back injury hindered her ability to play throughout the summer, and Fahey picked up three of her four singles matches. She topped off her weekend successes with a dynamic 6-3, 7-5 victory over her Georgia opponent.
“(Fahey) did a good job and is in great shape,” Bernstein said. “She just hasn’t had matches under her belt recently.”
Michigan didn’t have all of its ammo at the opening invitational, as Minor was unable to compete due to knee procedures. Though she will likely be out for the entire fall season, she will be back to compete when team scoring commences in January.
The Wolverines began play Friday, squaring off against South Carolina and Virginia. Michigan picked up five of its 11 singles matches, and two of its five doubles matches.
The Wolverines upgraded their doubles game Saturday, sweeping both matches against TCU opponents. Senior Alex Najarian and sophomore Chiara Lommer combined for a 6-4 victory, and Fahey and Lorenzini paired up for a 6-3 win.
Sunday was more of the same for Michigan, as the Wolverines went 2-0 on the doubles court again. Fahey and Najarian served their Vermont opponents a 6-1 defeat, while Lommer and Lorenzini combined for a 6-0 rout.
Michigan’s singles play struggled on both of these days, as the Wolverines picked up a total of three wins. Fahey contributed heavily to this output, providing two of the three victories.
Bernstein emphasized that this weekend was a jumping off point and that there is room for growth even before Michigan’s Wildcat Invitational in Evanston next weekend.
“(The competition) gave us a good idea of where we are at the beginning of the season, and where we want to get to,” Bernstein said. “The whole weekend, the quality was really good and we were pushed. It shows us what we need to work on both individually and as a team.”