Sweet Again! U-M Rallies in Singles to Top Aggies in Regional Final
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 15-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team is headed to its third consecutive Sweet 16 after rallying to defeat No. 19 Texas A&M, 4-3, in the final match on Saturday afternoon (May 12) in the second round of the NCAA Championships at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Wolverines lost the doubles point but took four singles matches.
With the dual score knotted at 3-3, sophomore Brooke Bolender (Delray Beach, Fla./Kaplan Prep) rallied to defeat No. 53-ranked Nazari Urbina, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the final match. The Wolverine sophomore, ranked 93rd, broke late in the second set, claiming the final two games to force the third, where she jumped to a significant 4-0 advantage. Urbina held at 4-1 and again at 5-2, before Bolender served out the match, winning three straight points before sealing it on a misplayed forehand wide.
It was the third time this season -- and second in three weeks -- that a U-M dual came down to Bolender's match. She improved to 25-11 on the season and 16-8 in dual matches.
Senior Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall HS) and freshman Sarah Lee (Los Angeles, Calif./Campbell Hall HS) won quickly at the No. 6 and No. 4 singles position, respectively, to earn Michigan its first lead of the dual match.
Sulahian cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 decision against Janine Erasmus, breaking early to roll in the first set before taking advantage of a late break -- to 4-3 -- to claim the second. Sulahian, appearing in her final home appearance at the VTC, closed out the match with an overhead winner from the net.
Lee finished just moments later on the No. 4 court, where she defeated Janelle Cuthbertson, 6-2, 6-1, to improve to 32-9 on the season and regain a share of the team lead for wins. Lee used early breaks to control both sets from start to finish.
Texas A&M picked up a win on the No. 1 court, where No. 6 -ranked Cristina Sancez-Quintanar battled past 12th-ranked freshman Emina Bektas (Indianapolis, Ind./New Braunfels HS), 6-4, 7-5, but fellow U-M freshman Kristen Dodge (Barrington, Ill./Barrington HS) soon after wrapped up a 7-5, 6-1 win over Lauren Santacroce at No. 5 to reestablish the Wolverines' one-point dual lead. Dodge broke late to claim the first set and carried the momentum into the second, where she earned an immediate break and ultimately closed out the match with four straight points.
The Aggies' 78th-ranked Wen Sun edged junior Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan HS), 6-4, 6-4, at No. 3 to even the dual score at 3-3. Down 5-1 in the first set, Nguyen's rally fell just short and she similarly fought back from an early break in the second, before Sun surged ahead with the final two games. The match did not end, however, until Bolender was already up 4-1 in the third set.
The Wolverines looked to be in the driver's seat in the doubles competition, winning quickly at No. 2, but Texas A&M used a late rally on the No. 1 court to take the initial point. Nguyen and Sulahian broke early, surging to 5-2 advantage, and twice again late to win 8-2. Bektas and Bolender saw their 12-match win streak halted at the top position, falling to No. 29-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun, 9-7. The Wolverine duo broke to 6-4 but were immediately broken back as the Aggies evened the score then broke again to claim the final two games.
The Wolverines will take on No. 2-seeded Florida on Thursday (May 17) at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start.
Following are match-by-match results:
No. 1 -- No. 6 Cristina Sancez-Quintanar (Texas A&M) d. No. 12 Emina Bektas (U-M), 6-4, 7-5
No. 2 -- No. 93 Brooke Bolender (U-M) d. No. 53 Nazari Urbina (Texas A&M), 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
No. 3 -- No. 78 Wen Sun (Texas A&M) d. Mimi Nguyen (U-M), 6-4, 6-4
No. 4 -- Sarah Lee (U-M) d. Janelle Cuthbertson (Texas A&M), 6-2, 6-1
No. 5 -- Kristen Dodge (U-M) d. Lauren Santacroce (Texas A&M), 7-5, 6-1
No. 6 -- Michelle Sulahian (U-M) d. Janine Erasmus (Texas A&M), 6-1, 6-3
No. 1 -- No. 29 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar/Wen Sun (Texas A&M) d. No. 11 Emina Bektas/Brooke Bolender (U-M), 9-7
No. 2 -- Mimi Nguyen/Michelle Sulahian (U-M) d. Nazari Urbina/Janelle Cuthbertson (Texas A&M), 8-2
No. 3 -- Lauren Santacroce/Sheri Olivier (Texas A&M) d. Kristen Dodge/Sarah Lee (U-M), 8-4
Order of Completion: Singles 6-4-1-5-3-2; Doubles 2-1-3