The homecoming was everything the Michigan women’s tennis team could have hoped for.
After 11 straight away matches — including a 5-2 victory at Minnesota on Friday — the Wolverines returned to the Varsity Tennis Center and secured a 7-0 win against Purdue to remain undefeated in Big Ten play.
“It’s been a tough stretch for the girls,” said Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein. “It’s definitely good to be home. We played really well today too, which was a bonus. We’re starting to put it together which is nice.”
Added sophomore Chiara Lommer: “It was really nice having a home crowd. Having everyone behind us was really great, especially after that doubles point. It was just a really good, positive atmosphere and we felt really confident being back home after the tough away conditions.”
Over the course of the weekend, the Wolverines dominated singles play, winning 11 of 12 matches.
No. 1 junior Kate Fahey continued her dominance with a 6-4, 6-2 win Friday, and rolled Purdue’s Silvio Ambrosio 6-0, 6-2, on Sunday. Ambrosio fought off a match point, but in the end Fahey took advantage of Ambrosio’s slice return and used the slow-moving ball to drill the shot down the line. The Boilermaker could barely muster a shot back as the return landed in the net.
Fahey was the first off the court, so all she could do was wait and watch her teammates pick off each Purdue player one by one.
No. 5 senior Mira Ruder-Hook followed closely behind with a 6-2, 6-0 win of her own, and it became a race between No. 6 sophomore Lera Patiuk and No. 3 Lommer to see who could clinch the match for the Wolverines.
Within seconds of each other, Patiuk, then Lommer, won their matches off of Boilermaker errors.
No. 2 junior Brienne Minor was the final Michigan point. Her first set was a grind, and required a tiebreaker. Minor jumped out to a 6-1 lead, and while Alex Sabe threatened a comeback, Minor escaped with a 7-5 win in the tiebreaker. She took the second set easily, breezing to a 6-1 victory.
The Wolverines usually rely on singles play to make up for their lackluster doubles play. Michigan dropped the doubles point Friday but won it Sunday, leaving much to be desired.
Even shaky doubles play isn’t the end-all be-all for the Wolverines, but it is just another facet they need to keep working on if they hope to stay undefeated in the Big Ten, especially with matches against No. 5 Northwestern and No. 6 Illinois approaching in two weeks.
“We just gained a little bit of confidence,” Bernstein said. “You start believing in yourself and you figure out how to get the four points. I think as a group that’s what we’re starting to figure out and it’s good timing because we’re in the Big Ten season which is very important.”
Added Lommer: “Since we’ve been back in Big Ten season, we have a different demeanor. Coming in and knowing we’re the best and just that first win (against Iowa) was like, ‘Yeah, we are the best in this conference’ and we have just been rolling since then because our attitude is back and we’re back on top where we belong.”