Wolverines Fall in Sweet 16 to No. 7 Miami (Fla.)
Site: Stanford, Calif. (Taube South Stadium)
Event: NCAA Championships (Round of 16)
Result: #7 Miami (Fla.) 4, #10 Michigan 2
Records: U-M (24-5), Miami (Fla.) (21-6)
Next U-M Event: Wed-Mon, May 25-30 -- at NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships (Stanford, Calif.)
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The No. 10-seeded University of Michigan women's tennis team rallied after dropping the doubles point to tie the match at 2-2 but eventually fell, 4-2, to No. 7-seeded Miami (Fla.) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships on Friday (May 20) at Taube South Stadium. U-M completes the team campaign at 24-5 and has its NCAA run end in the Round of 16, both for the second straight season.
Miami struck first, winning the doubles point with victories at No. 2 and No. 1. The Hurricanes grabbed an 8-0 decision at No. 2, needing just one more match win for the point. Michigan responded with an 8-3 win at No. 3, with junior Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall School) and sophomore Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) combining for the victory.
With the first two matches split, the match at the top spot became the deciding match. Senior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) and freshman Brooke Bolender (Delray Beach, Fla./Kaplan) had four match points but were unable to capitalize, sending the match to a tiebreaker. The Wolverine duo won the first point of the breaker, but Miami took seven of the next eight points for the 7-2 tiebreaker win and the doubles point.
In singles action, the Wolverines won four-of-six first sets. Miami increased its lead to 2-0 with a win at the No. 2 singles position. Nguyen got one point back as Michigan's first marker of the day, winning 6-1, 6-0 at No. 6 over Melissa Bolivar.
Muresan evened up the score with a 7-5, 6-2 dispatching of No. 6 Bianca Eichkorn at No. 1, her first triumph over Eichkorn in three tries this season. The match then shifted to courts No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5.
Senior Whitney Taney (Edina, Minn./Edina) dropped a 6-3, 7-6 (2) match at No. 4, putting Miami on the brink of clinching the match. Taney rallied in the second set to force a tiebreaker after being down 5-4 with Gabriela Mejia serving for the match. The senior captain fell short in the breaker (7-2), leaving Michigan with players on No. 4 and No. 5.
The Hurricanes won the match when No. 125 Kayla Rizzolo defeated freshman Sam Critser (Mountain View, Calif./Mountain View) in three sets (3-6, 6-4, 6-4) at the No. 4 slot. Senior Rika Tatsuno (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) was winning her third set, 4-1, when the match was ended.
Muresan and Bolender will now participate in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships at Stanford, May 25-30.
Following are match-by-match results:
No. 1 -- No. 8 Denise Muresan (U-M) d. No. 6 Bianca Eichkorn (Miami), 7-5, 6-2
No. 2 -- No. 36 Anna Bartenstein (Miami) d. No. 81 Brooke Bolender (U-M), 6-1, 6-1
No. 3 -- Gabriela Mejia (Miami) d. No. 82 Whitney Taney (U-M), 6-3, 7-6 (2)
No. 4 --No. 125 Kayla Rizzolo (Miami) d. No. 67 Sam Critser (U-M), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 -- Rika Tatsuno (U-M) vs. Danielle Mills (Miami), 6-3, 4-6, 4-1 abandoned
No. 6 -- Mimi Nguyen (U-M) d. Melissa Bolivar (Miami), 6-1, 6-0
No. 1 -- No. 5 Anna Bartenstein/Bianca Eichkorn (Miami) d. No. 8 Denise Muresan/Brooke Bolender (U-M), 9-8 (2)
No. 2 -- Gabriela Mejia/Melissa Bolivar (Miami) d. No. 65 Whitney Taney/Rika Tatsuno (U-M), 8-0
No. 3 -- Mimi Nguyen/Michelle Sulahian (U-M) d. Danielle Mills/Brittany Dubins (Miami), 8-3
Order of Completion: Singles 2-6-1-3-4, Doubles 2-3-1
N O T E S
• Miami (Fla.) and Michigan met earlier this season, a 4-3 Hurricane win on March 2.
• This was Michigan's second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.
• U-M has dropped both doubles points to Miami this season.
• Michelle Sulahian and Mimi Nguyen played together on the doubles court for just the second time during the dual-match season. The pair is 2-0 at the No. 3 position.
• Rika Tatsuno and Whitney Taney had their 17-match doubles win streak snapped.
• The senior class of Denise Muresan, Whitney Taney, Rika Tatsuno and Kari Wig ended their careers with an 85-23 record.
• Denise Muresan picked up her first win over Bianca Eichkorn this season. She had been 0-2 against her heading into today's match.
• Denise Muresan won her 33rd singles match of the season, tying a career high.
• Michigan tied its program record for wins in a season (24), set last season. U-M also went 24-5 last season and had its season end in the Sweet 16.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Ronni Bernstein
On the end of the match ... "The girl from Miami hit some good shots, and we just kind of stepped back. It was just a few points here and there that got away from us. If we had pulled out that doubles point, it is a completely different match. We let it slip through our hands."
On the team battling back after losing the doubles point ... "That is what our team does, we battle. As disappointing as that doubles was, it is just one point. You need to get four and we thought we could. We just did not do the job in a few positions. You have two freshmen out there playing that last match and unfortunately, the one from Miami stepped up."
On what the team gains from this experience ... "We hope to be back. It is taking that step forward. We have been here two years in a row and lost in this round. I thought this team could hang and maybe do a little better and move on. But I have to give credit to Miami. They gutted it out. They got it done in the end and won the big points. That is what the match came down to."