Weekly #3: Wolverines to Host ITA Kick-Off Weekend

Jan. 25, 2011

Saturday, Jan. 29
-- vs. Auburn - ITA Kick-Off (Varsity Tennis Center), 2 p.m.
Live Scoreboard/Video
Sunday, Jan. 30 -- Southern California or North Carolina State (Varsity Tennis Center), Time TBD
Live Scoreboard/Video

The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team remains at home to host the ITA Kick-Off this weekend (Sat-Sun., Jan. 29-30), welcoming No. 18 Southern California, North Carolina State and Auburn to the Varsity Tennis Center. U-M is looking for its second consecutive trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship and will first square off against Auburn on Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday's first match features No. 19 Southern California facing North Carolina State at 10 a.m. The winners of each match and the losers of each match will compete on Sunday.

Schedule of Play
Saturday, Jan. 29
No. 18 Southern California vs. North Carolina State, 10 a.m.
No. 8 Michigan vs. Auburn, 2 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 30
Match 1 loser vs. Match 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner, 2 p.m.
Live Scoreboard/Video


About the ITA Kick-Off -- Michigan is one of 15 schools hosting a Kick-Off event, the first time the Wolverines have ever hosted the four-team affair. Joining No. 1-seed Michigan (1-0) at the Varsity Tennis Center this weekend are No. 2-seed Southern California (2-0), No. 3-seed North Carolina State (1-0) and No. 4-seed Auburn (0-0). 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 of their matches at these events will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, Feb. 18-21, at the Boar's Head Sports Club, hosted by the University of Virginia.

Last Year at the Kick-Off -- The Wolverines won their region in dramatic fashion, topping No. 16 South Carolina (4-3) before scoring a 5-2 win over host Arkansas to advance to the ITA Indoor Championship for the first time ever. Against the Gamecocks, Michigan fell behind 3-1 before winning the final three matches to advance to the finals against No. 18 Arkansas. U-M won the doubles point and three of the first four singles matches against Arkansas the following day en route to the victory.

About the Opponents
Auburn -- The Tigers have yet to play a dual match, kicking off that portion of the schedule this weekend. Auburn went 9-11 during 2010, returning four players from last season while welcoming four freshmen. The doubles team of Jacqueline Kasler and Paulina Schippers is ranked No. 20. U-M is 0-1 all-time against the Tigers.

No. 18 Southern California -- The Trojans come to Ann Arbor with a 2-0 dual-match record after scoring a pair of 6-1 victories over Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State to start the season. USC is led by No. 3 Maria Sanchez and No. 10 Danielle Lao along with the No. 11 doubles team of Alison Ramos and Valeria Pulido. The Wolverines have dropped their only other contest against USC.

North Carolina State -- The Wolfpack comes into the weekend with a 1-0 record after shutting out Charleston Southern to start the 2011 season. NC State features No. 32 Sanaa Bhambri on the singles side, along with the No. 7 ranked doubles duo of Bhambri and Sandhya Nagaraj. Michigan is a perfect 3-0 against North Carolina State.

Dual Match Format -- This weekend's dual match 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.

Blanking the Broncos -- For the second consecutive season, the Wolverines opened up with a 7-0 shutout win over Western Michigan. U-M won all nine matches on Sunday (Jan. 23) against WMU, including in straight sets during singles play. It was the 26th shutout win for head coach Ronni Bernstein since taking over at Michigan.

Muresan Keeps Moving Up -- Senior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) keeps moving up the career wins list, now with 91 in her career. The senior All-American is 91-39 in her career, putting her at No. 5 on the all-time wins list. Her .700 career winning percentage is the third highest in program history, and she is one of only three on the top 10 list with at least 90 wins.

Critser Debuts at No. 2 -- Freshman Sam Critser (Mountainview, Calif./Mountainview) played in the No. 2 singles position against Western Michigan, picking up a 7-5, 6-3 win over Maria Nivia. She is the first freshman to play that high in the lineup in a season-opening match since Michelle DaCosta (2002-05) played No. 2 against Western Michigan to begin the 2002 campaign.

Streaking -- Sam Critser has won eight singles matches in a row, winning her final four matches at the ASU Thunderbird, all three at the Michigan Invitational and opening the dual match season with a win at No. 2. Denise Muresan has won four in a row by taking three at the Michigan Invitational, including two wins over ranked opponents, and winning her first dual match of 2011.

Tournament Season Complete -- The Wolverines compiled a 73-46 overall singles mark during fall tournament action with Denise Muresan (13), Sam Critser (12), Brooke Bolender (Delray Beach, Fla./Kaplan) (12) and Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) (10) all reaching double-digit wins during the individual play. U-M went 28-22 in doubles, using 14 different combinations over the course of the tournament season.

Where We Rank -- Michigan earned a No. 8 preseason ranking, its highest ever in program history. All-American Denise Muresan comes in at No. 11 in the first edition of the 2011 rankings, with senior captain Whitney Taney (Edina, Minn./Edina) ranking No. 61 and Sam Critser slotted at No. 105. [ ITA Rankings ]

14 to 500 -- The Wolverines need 14 wins to reach 500 program wins. This season marks the 37th year of women's tennis, as the Wolverines have an all-time mark of 486-322, good for a .601 winning percentage. The first season for women's tennis at U-M was 1973-74 when the Wolverines went 5-0 with a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships.

TV Time -- Michigan's match against Vanderbilt on Feb. 13 will be broadcast on a tape delay on the Big Ten Network. The match can be seen on the BTN on Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. [ Release ]

Enjoying Time at Home -- The Wolverines play six of their first seven matches at the Varsity Tennis Center, with the lone early road match at Notre Dame on Feb. 10. Overall, U-M will play 12 regular-season matches at the VTC, along with hosting the Big Ten Championships, April 28-May 1.

From All Over -- Of the nine Wolverines on the 2011 roster, four hail from California, with one each from Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and Alberta. The women's tennis team is the only varsity team at U-M without a Michigan native.

A Look Back -- The 2010 season was the most successful in school history, with the Wolverines winning their first Big Ten championship since 1997. U-M won a program-best 24 matches and advanced to the Sweet 16 at the NCAA Championships. Denise Muresan became the first All-American since Marian Kremer in 1981. Muresan (Big Ten Player of the Year), Mimi Nguyen (Big Ten Freshman of the Year) and head coach Ronni Bernstein (Big Ten Coach of the Year) swept the conference awards as Michigan went 10-0 during the regular season for the Big Ten crown.

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Ronni Bernstein is in her fourth year leading the Wolverines. In 2010, she was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and ITA Midwest Coach of the Year after leading U-M to a 24-5 overall record, a Big Ten Championship and the Sweet 16. Since coming to Ann Arbor, Bernstein has compiled a 61-18 overall record and a 28-2 Big Ten mark. Teryn Ashley-Fitch, in her fifth year at U-M, was elevated to associate head coach over the summer with Kristen Schlukebir joining the Wolverines as the volunteer assistant coach for the 2011 season.

Completed in 1997, the $6 million indoor and outdoor complex provides the Wolverine tennis programs with a state-of-the-art on-campus training and competition site that is an excellent recruiting tool, and a premier and nationally competitive facility to nurture Michigan tennis players for many more decades to come. The Varsity Tennis Center has undergone a number of extensive upgrades over the past five years, including the addition of indoor and outdoor electronic scoreboards, individual video cameras on each indoor court, and new indoor and outdoor audio systems. Most recently, outdoor chair back seating was added overlooking six of the outdoor courts.

The University of Michigan athletics department will no longer print media guides. U-M fans and media can still obtain all the information they're used to, only now it's available online. Each of our varsity athletic teams will have a Record Book and a Yearbook. If you're looking for in-depth historical information, statistics, records, archives, etc., the Record Book is what you'll need. For more of a general overview of a team, the staff and student-athletes, check out the Yearbook. [ Publications ]

Michigan women's tennis is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (Michigan_tennis) with up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond. Twitter is a free casual, online social network that is designed to connect businesses, organizations and individuals. Each Twitter post (or "tweet") can be received on a user's cell phone via text or on the web.

Michigan women's tennis is also on Facebook. Connect with the program, alumni and fans by clicking the "Like" button at facebook.com/UofMTennis. Facebook is a social network service and website with more than 500 million active users.

Saturday, Feb. 5 -- vs. Kentucky (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Thursday, Feb. 10
-- at Notre Dame (South Bend, Ind.), 4 p.m.

Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423