College notebook: Michigan women's tennis team rides win streak into big home stand and more
As the defending Big Ten champion University of Michigan women’s tennis team prepares to host Illinois and Northwestern this weekend, winning isn’t the only thing on its mind. The Wolverines are seeking revenge.
Last season, Northwestern beat the Wolverines in the Big Ten tournament, and Sunday’s match between the two teams will be the first time they’ve met since then.
“It’s a big weekend, no doubt. We’re in a good place,” head coach Ronni Bernstein said. “The biggest thing is that we compete really hard. We’ve talked about having a whole team effort; it’s going to take a whole team effort to win.”
Currently, the Wolverines are in first place in the Big Ten with a 5-0 record, and the Wildcats are tied for second at 4-1. U-M also is ranked No. 15 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, but the Wildcats are ranked No. 14, making the match at the Varsity Tennis Center extremely important for both schools.
For the players, being in front of their fans is an added bonus.
“I’m really happy these matches are at home, because we’ll have the crowd behind us. The whole team is really looking forward to it,” senior Michelle Sulahian said.
Sulahian is the only senior on the team. Much like the men’s team, the women have relied heavily on their sophomores and freshmen to help the squad each week. One of those freshmen, Emina Bektas, said she thinks the younger players have blossomed partly because of the tight-knit relationships on the team.
“We’ve done really well because of our teammates. We’re definitely a family as a team. Just knowing that we trust each other is really what helps us,” Bektas said.
Bernstein said she thinks the time the younger players spent playing in the fall also helped with their development.
“Obviously, it’s a learning process, I feel like we’re getting better and better as the year goes on. I think they’re a confident group,” Bernstein said. “Fall really made a difference where they got some experience playing other players at this level.”
While the Wolverines are excited to face Northwestern, Bernstein said she reminded her team not to look too far ahead.
“We have to go match by match; that’s how we have to look at that. Once we get through this weekend, no matter what happens, it doesn’t get any easier,” Bernstein said. “These two matches are important; both teams are a challenge. It’s a huge advantage (being at home); hopefully, we can get some rowdy fans out there.”
Pair of Eagles earn weekly awards
Two Eastern Michigan University female athletes have earned weekly awards from the Mid-American Conference.
Junior track athlete Shantavia Williams was named the MAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week. Williams set a season standard for the conference in the 400-meter dash with a time of 53.96 seconds at the North Florida Invitational last week. She also was a member of the 400-meter relay team that finished first with a time of 45.97.
Freshman softball pitcher Lindsay Rich was named MAC West Pitcher of the Week for the first time in her career. Rich was 3-0 last week while pitching 25 innings in seven appearances. Rich threw a one-hit shutout against Oakland on March 28. During the week, she struck out 18 batters and finished with a 2.52 earned-run average.
Michigan men’s tennis team on a roll
After defeating No. 23 Indiana and Purdue last weekend at home, the U-M men’s tennis team has won seven of its last eight matches and now sits tied for third place in the Big Ten with a 4-1 record in conference play. Ohio State and Northwestern sit atop at 5-0, and the Wolverines have a chance to knock off the Wildcats when they travel to Northwestern on Sunday. U-M will be in action Friday when it faces the Illinois on the road.
Upcoming home schedule:
EMU softball — 1 p.m. vs. Northern Illinois at Varsity Field
EMU softball — 3 p.m. vs. Northern Illinois at Varsity Field
U-M baseball — 5:35 p.m. vs. Michigan State at Wilpon Complex
U-M women’s tennis — noon vs. Illinois at Varsity Tennis Center
U-M lacrosse — 1 p.m. vs. Delaware at Michigan Stadium
EMU softball — 2 p.m. vs. Western Michigan at Varsity Field
U-M women’s tennis — noon vs. Northwestern at Varsity Tennis Center
EMU softball — 1 p.m. vs. Western Michigan at Varsity Field
U-M baseball — 3 p.m. vs. Michigan State at Wilpon Complex
U-M softball — 6 p.m. vs. Western Michigan at Wilpon Complex
U-M baseball — 6:05 vs. Bowling Green at Wilpon Complex
U-M baseball — 6:05 p.m. vs. Toledo at Wilpon Complex