Wolverines Stay Perfect in Big Ten Play With Win Over Gophers
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Varsity Tennis Center)
Score: #20 Michigan 6, #26 Minnesota 1
Records: U-M (10-5, 3-0 Big Ten), Minnesota (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 31 -- at Purdue (West Lafayette, Ind.), Noon
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 20-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team kept its Big Ten Conference winning streak alive, claiming the doubles point and five of six singles matches to defeat No. 26 Minnesota, 6-1, Sunday afternoon (March 25) at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Wolverines improved to 3-0 in Big Ten play this season and have not lost in regular-season conference play in 28 consecutive matches.
Michigan won the first five singles matches off court, prevailing in straight sets in the first three to quickly clinch the dual. Freshman Emina Bektas (Indianapolis, Ind./New Braunfels HS) made quick work of the Golden Gophers' Natallia Pintusava, 6-1, 6-1, at the No. 1 position as the first match off court. Bektas, No. 10 in the latest ITA singles rankings, went up with early breaks to command both sets and closed out her match with a forehand winner. It was the fourth straight win for the Wolverine rookie, who improved to 12-1 in dual-match competition.
The Wolverine upperclassmen, senior Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall HS) and junior Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan HS), followed suit, winning handily at the No. 6 and No. 4 positions, respectively. Sulahian defeated Aria Lambert, 6-3, 6-3, using a late surge to take the first set before jumping to an early and significant lead to close out the second. Nguyen clinched the dual match with a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Tereza Brichacova. After Brichacova rallied to even the score at two apiece in the first, Nguyen claimed the final four games to take the set. She needed to rally herself in the second, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to close out the match.
Freshman Sarah Lee (Los Angeles, Calif./Campbell Hall HS) claimed her second set to even the score against Doron Muravnik at the No. 3 position just moments after Nguyen clinched, so the contest went to a match tiebreaker, in which Lee bounced back from an early deficit to wrap up the match 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (6). Lee improved to a team-leading 13-1 in dual-match play.
The two teams split the final two singles matches on court. Sophomore Brooke Bolender (Delray Beach, Fla./Kaplan Prep) persevered over 116th-ranked Alexa Palen, 7-5, 7-6 (3), on the No. 2 court, winning four straight points to earn a 12th-game break in the first set before sealing the match on a double fault in the second-set tiebreaker.
The Golden Gophers earned their lone win at the No. 5 position, where Julia Courter defeated sophomore Sam Critser (Mountain View, Calif./Mountain View HS), 6-7 (6), 6-2, 1-0 (8).
Michigan won at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions to clinch the doubles point for the second straight dual match. After the teams split the first two matches off court, Sulahian and Nguyen provided the deciding point at No. 2, earning an 8-6 decision over Brichacova and Courter. The Wolverine duo gave up a break in the second game but responded by winning the next three. The teams traded several more breaks, but Michigan held on to its lead, finishing the match on a Sulahian overhead down the middle.
The Wolverines will continue Big Ten play with two road contests next weekend. Michigan will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday (March 31) for a noon meeting against Purdue before wrapping the weekend Sunday (April 1) with an 11 a.m. slate against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind.
Following are match-by-match results:
No. 1 -- No. 10 Emina Bektas (U-M) d. Natallia Pintusava (Minn), 6-1, 6-1
No. 2 -- No. 64 Brooke Bolender (U-M) d. No. 116 Alexa Palen (Minn), 7-5, 7-6 (3)
No. 3 -- Sarah Lee (U-M) d. Doron Muravnik (Minn), 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (6)
No. 4 -- No. 124 Mimi Nguyen (U-M) d. Tereza Brichacova (Minn), 6-2, 6-3
No. 5 -- Julia Courter (Minn) d. No. 106 Sam Critser (U-M), 6-7 (6), 6-2, 1-0 (8)
No. 6 -- Michelle Sulahian (U-M) d. Aria Lambert (Minn), 6-3, 6-3
No. 1 -- Pintusava/Magdalena Wiecha (Minn) d. No. 7 Bolender/Bektas (U-M), 8-6
No. 2 -- Nguyen/Sulahian (U-M) d. Muravnik/Palen (Minn), 8-6
No. 3 -- Lee/Critser (U-M) d. Brichacova/Courter (Minn), 8-2
Order of Completion: Singles 1-6-4-3-2-5, Doubles 3-1-2