Weekly #2: Wolverines Participate in ITA Kick-Off Weekend

Jan. 26, 2010

ITA Kick-Off Weekend

Friday, Jan. 29 -- vs. #16 South Carolina (Fayetteville, Ark.), 11 a.m. CST
Saturday, Jan. 30 -- vs. #18 Arkansas or #23 Washington (Fayetteville, Ark.), 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.

The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (1-0) plays South Carolina on Friday morning (Jan. 29) at 11 a.m. CST as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. U-M will then take on either Arkansas or Washington on Saturday (Jan. 30). Game time for those matches will be either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. CST.


ITA Kick-Off Weekend -- For the second consecutive season, the Wolverines will be participating in the ITA Kick-Off event, heading to Fayetteville, Ark. No. 19 U-M will be joined by No. 16 South Carolina, No. 18 Arkansas and No. 23 Washington. For the event, there are 15 regional sites with four schools at each. The No. 1 team (Arkansas) in each site will face the No. 4 team (Washington). The No. 2 team (South Carolina) will face the No. 3 team (Michigan). Two matches are guaranteed; the winners/losers will play the following day. The 15 schools that win both of their matches at these events will be invited to play ITA National Team Indoor Championships (Feb. 11-14) at the University of Wisconsin.

About the Opponents
Michigan will first square off against South Carolina before facing either Arkansas or Washington.

No. 16 South Carolina -- The Gamecocks host Furman on Jan. 26 in their first dual match of 2010 before heading to Arkansas. South Carolina features No. 38 Ana Zubori and No. 69 Anya Morgina in the singles lineup. South Carolina came to Ann Arbor in the fall, competing in the Wolverine Invitational where junior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) knocked off Zubori to win the Maize flight of the fall tournament. U-M is 2-3 all-time versus South Carolina, winning the last meeting between the two teams, 4-3, last season (Jan. 25, 2009).

No. 18 Arkansas -- The Razorbacks come into the weekend with a 2-0 record after defeating Oklahoma State (7-0) and Saint Louis (6-1) last weekend. UA dropped only one match on the weekend, winning 17 of the 18 matches played. The doubles duo of Kate Lukomskaya and Kelsey Sundaram have not dropped a game yet, winning both matches, 8-0. On the singles side, Sundaram, Stephanie Roy and Claudine Paulson all have perfect 2-0 records. Michigan and Arkansas have never faced each other.

No. 23 Washington -- To begin dual-match play, the Huskies picked up a pair of 6-1 wins over BYU and Utah to run their record to 2-0 on the early season. UW features two players ranked in the top 11, with Denise Dy coming in at No. 3 and Venise Chan at No. 11. Washington was just in Ann Arbor, participating in the Michigan Invitational (Jan. 16-18). In the tournament-style event, U-M took five-of-seven singles matches from Washington, as well as winning all three doubles matches. In dual match action, Michigan is a perfect 2-0 against the Huskies, last defeating them, 7-0 (March 27, 2008).

Wolverines Blank Western to Start 2010 Dual Season -- In the first dual match of the 2010 season, Michigan came away with a 7-0 shutout win over in-state opponent Western Michigan (Jan. 24). U-M swept all three doubles matches to earn the doubles point, dropping only seven games across the three matches. On the singles side, Denise Muresan played at the No. 1 position for the first time in her career, coming away with a 6-0, 6-0 win. Sophomore Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall School) won her fourth consecutive match, while freshman Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) won the first dual match of her career.

Bernstein and the Shutout -- In her third season now at Michigan, head coach Ronni Bernstein's teams have shut out opponents 17 times after Sunday's 7-0 blanking of Western Michigan. The Wolverines have earned a 7-0 shutout 14 times and a 4-0 shutout three times. The 4-0 decision comes in postseason play, when matches in progress are abandoned after the dual match is clinched.

Michigan in the Rankings -- In the first ITA singles rankings of the season (Jan. 5), junior Denise Muresan earned the first ranking of her career, coming in at No. 36. The Wolverines moved up to No. 19 in the second team rankings of the season after starting 2010 at No. 20.

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. 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.

Michigan Invitational Ends Tournament Play -- The women's tennis team put an exclamation point on its tournament season, hosting the three-day Michigan Invitational. The tandem of freshman Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) and sophomore Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell School) went 3-0 on the weekend to win the doubles title. As a team, U-M only dropped one doubles match, coming at the hands of the No. 3 duo in the country. In singles play, Sulahian and junior Kari Wig (Cochrane, Alberta/Cochrane) were both undefeated in singles while junior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) defeated her second top-10 opponent of the season. Muresan came away with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over No. 6 Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee. On the weekend, U-M sported a 7-1 doubles mark and a 12-9 singles mark.

A Successful Tournament Season For the Wolverines -- The tournament portion of the 2009-10 season for the Wolverines was a successful one, as U-M went 70-43 as a team in singles action. U-M won four singles titles, with Denise Muresan winning two and freshman Taylor Fournier (Leawood, Kan./Blue Valley North) and senior Tania Mahtani (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) each winning one title. U-M had three players with double-digit wins; Muresan was 15-5, Michelle Sulahian went 11-6 and Kari Wig was 10-6. On the doubles side, Michigan used 12 different combinations, going 30-23 overall as a team with Mimi Nguyen and Sulahian winning the doubles crown at the Michigan Invitational (Jan. 16-18).

Muresan Has a Break-Out Fall -- Junior Denise Muresan made a name for herself during the tournament portion of the season, going 15-5 while defeating two top-10 opponents. Muresan started off the fall season by winning the Maize flight at the Wolverine Invitational (Oct. 2-4). The junior then made a run to the ITA Midwest Regional semifinals (Oct. 22-26) before falling to the No. 1-ranked player in the country. In the fall tournament finale, Muresan came away with a perfect 5-0 record to win the ASU Thunderbird (Nov. 6-8). While in Tempe, she knocked off three ranked opponents to become the second Wolverine in five years to win the tournament.

Oh Captain! -- Junior Whitney Taney (Edina, Minn./Edina) was voted by her teammates as the captain of the 2009-10 Wolverines. Taney was Michigan's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree last season, in addition to being named an ITA Scholar Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten. Each Wednesday during the 2010 season, Taney will give a glimpse into the women's tennis team in her blog, Serving It Up.

From Afar -- Out of the eight athletes on the tennis team, not one of them is a native of Michigan. Four hail from California with Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas and Canada each producing one student-athlete. The only other varsity team at the University of Michigan that is full of non-Michiganders is, coincidentally, the men's tennis team.

Juniors anchor the Wolverines -- The junior quartet of Denise Muresan, Whitney Taney, Rika Tatsuno (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) and Kari Wig accounts for a large chunk of the team. With only one senior, one sophomore and two freshmen, the junior class is half the size of the eight-member Wolverines.

Bolender Signs to Join Wolverines -- Brooke Bolender, a Blue Chip recruit, signed to join the Wolverines for the 2010-11 season. One of the top junior competitors in the country, Bolender is currently listed as the No. 9-ranked senior on tennisrecruiting.net and is No. 99 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings. She has been training at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., since 2005 and also has been a member of the USTA High Performance Development Program.

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Ronni Bernstein enters her third season at the helm of Michigan women's tennis. In her first two seasons in Ann Arbor, Bernstein has compiled an impressive record of 37-13 with an 18-2 Big Ten Conference mark. She has led the Wolverines to postseason play in both seasons.

A Look Back at 2009 -- The Wolverines ended the 2009 dual-match season with an 18-7 overall record to go along with a 9-1 mark in Big Ten action. U-M concluded the season with a No. 18 ITA national team ranking, improving on the No. 19 finish in 2008. U-M made it to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive season before bowing to No. 5 Notre Dame in the second round. Chisako Sugiyama became the program's leader in all-time singles wins, eventually ending her career with 104 victories while earning All-Big Ten honors for the third consecutive season. Sugiyama completed her senior season with a No. 69 ITA national ranking. Rika Tatsuno earned All-Big Ten laurels for the first time in her career, ending the season ranked No. 102.

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Beginning with the 2009-10 academic year, 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. 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. [ Check out both in our new publications section! ]

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. Just this past summer, outdoor chair back seating was added overlooking six of the outdoor courts.

Saturday, Feb. 6
-- vs. Syracuse (Varsity Tennis Center), 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 7 -- vs. Notre Dame (Varsity Tennis Center), 11 a.m.