Week #3: U-M to Open This Weekend's ITA Kick-Off against Maryland
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Jan. 24, 2012

THIS WEEK
ITA KICKOFF WEEKEND
Saturday, Jan. 28 -- vs. Maryland (Varsity Tennis Center), 10 a.m.
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Sunday, Jan. 29 -- Notre Dame or Yale (Varsity Tennis Center), Time TBD
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The No. 10-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (1-0) remains at home to host the ITA Kick-Off this weekend (Sat-Sun., Jan. 28-29), welcoming No. 21 Notre Dame, No. 35 Yale and No. 40 Maryland to the Varsity Tennis Center. U-M is looking for its third consecutive trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship and will first square off against Maryland on Saturday at 10 a.m. Saturday's second match features Notre Dame and Yale at 2 p.m. The winners of each match and the losers of each match will compete on Sunday.

Schedule of Play
Saturday, Jan. 28
No. 10 Michigan vs. No. 40 Maryland, 10 a.m.
No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 35 Yale, 2 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 29
Match 1 loser vs. Match 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner, 2 p.m.

About the ITA Kick-Off -- Michigan is one of 15 schools hosting a Kick-Off event, earning the distinction for the second consecutive year. Joining No. 1 seed Michigan at the Varsity Tennis Center this weekend are No. 2 seed Notre Dame, No. 3 seed Yale and No. 4 seed Maryland. The No. 1 team in each site will face the No. 4 team, and the No. 2 team will face the No. 3 team in first-round match-ups. The winners and losers will play the next day. The 15 schools that win both their matches at these events will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, Feb. 10-13, at the Boar's Head Sports Club, hosted by the University of Virginia. [ ITA Preview ]

Last Year at the Kick-Off -- The Wolverines won their ITA Kick-Off region to advance to the ITA National Indoor Championship for the second straight year. U-M shut out Auburn, 7-0, in the first match of the event before hanging on to beat No. 18 Southern California, 5-2, on Sunday in the championship match. Since the ITA Kick-Off began in 2009, the Wolverines have a 5-1 record in the event and have advanced to the Indoor Championships in two of the three years.

About the Opponents
Maryland -- The Terrapins will open their dual season against Howard on Tuesday (Jan. 24) before traveling to Ann Arbor for the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Maryland went 13-10 during 2010-11 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, returning five players from last season while adding one freshman and a pair of transfers. Top singles player Cristina Stancu is 8-2 on the season and ranked No. 28 nationally, while doubles duo Ana Belzunce and Welma Luus list No. 37. U-M is 4-0 all-time against the Terps.

Notre Dame -- The Fighting Irish come to Ann Arbor with a 3-0 dual-match record after earning wins over Cincinnati (7-0), Missouri (6-1) and IPFW (7-0) to sweep through their season-opening competitions last weekend. Notre Dame is led by a pair of top-25 doubles teams -- No. 5 Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews and No. 25 Britney Sanders and Katherine White. The Wolverines trail in the all-time series against the Irish, 22-10.

Yale -- The Bulldogs will open dual-match play in Ann Arbor but are coming off a solid weekend effort in their own Bulldog Invitational against individuals from Tulsa, Purdue and Auburn. Yale's lineup features three ranked doubles pairings, including No. 16 Hanna Yu and Victoria Brook. Michigan is 3-1 in the all-time series against Yale.

Dual Match Format -- This weekend's dual matches will be contests for the best-of-seven team points. The dual will begin with three doubles matches consisting of eight-game pro sets. The team that wins two of these three matches will enter the singles competition with one of seven points. For the ITA Kick-Off, once the doubles point has been clinched, the remaining doubles matches will not be completed. After a brief intermission, six singles matches will be played. Each singles match will be the best-of-three tie-break sets and worth one point towards the team competition. The overall dual match will be decided when one team secures four total points. Matches in progress when the dual match is clinched will be played to completion.

WOLVERINES BITES
Blanking the Broncos -- For the third consecutive season, the Wolverines opened up with a 7-0 shutout win over Western Michigan. U-M won all nine matches on Sunday (Jan. 22) against WMU, including in straight sets during singles play. It was the 39th shutout win for head coach Ronni Bernstein since taking over at Michigan, while the Wolverines improved to 4-1 in season openers under her leadership. [ Full Recap ]

Fabulous Freshman -- With her 6-3, 6-1 win over Western Michigan's Nini Sujashvili in Sunday's dual opener (Jan. 22), freshman Emina Bektas became the first freshman to play at the No. 1 singles position under Ronni Bernstein's tenure at Michigan. A week earlier, Bektas earned Big Ten Conference Athlete of the Week after capturing the overall singles title at the Michigan Invitational (Jan. 14-16). Betkas posted a perfect 3-0 record at the No. 1 position with a pair of wins over nationally ranked opponents, defeating Washington's No. 10 Denise Dy (4-6, 6-4, 6-1) and Georgia Tech's No. 45 Jillian O'Neill of Georgia Tech (6-4, 6-4). It is the second weekly honor for Bektas in her rookie campaign and the third for the Wolverines this season.

A Look Back -- The Wolverines won their second consecutive Big Ten championship in 2011, finishing the season with a 24-5 record and 10-0 mark in Big Ten action. U-M reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Championships before falling to No. 7 Miami (Fla.). Denise Muresan became the first Wolverine to earn back-to-back ITA All-America singles honors and the first to earn singles and doubles accolades in the same season. She shared doubles All-America honors with sophomore Brooke Bolender. Muresan was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Bolender won Freshman of the Year and Ronni Bernstein was Coach of the Year. [ 2010-11 Statistics ]

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Ronni Bernstein is in her fifth year in Ann Arbor, compiling an 86-23 overall record and 38-2 Big Ten mark in her first four years. The Wolverines have strung together the best two-year span in program history during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, going 24-5 in both campaigns while winning two Big Ten championships. For her efforts, Bernstein has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year in both seasons. Teryn Ashley-Fitch is in her sixth year at Michigan and was promoted to associate head coach last summer after earning ITA Midwest Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 2010.

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UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Friday, Feb. 3 -- at Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tenn.), 3:30 p.m. CST
Sunday, Feb. 5 -- at Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.), 11 a.m. CST

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423