Weekly Release #4: U-M Heads to ITA Indoor Team Championships

Feb. 9, 2010

ITA National Indoor Team Championships

Friday, Feb. 12 -- vs. #7 Florida (Madison, Wis.), 9 a.m. CST
Remaining Matches TBD
Live Results | Tournament Information

The No. 16-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (4-1) heads to Madison, Wis., this weekend for its first-ever trip to the ITA National Indoor Team Championships. The Wolverines advanced after a 2-0 weekend (Jan. 29-30) at the ITA Kick-Off weekend. U-M is guaranteed at least three matches at the event and could play up to four matches if the Wolverines make it to the championship match.

The Indoor Championships -- For the first time in school history, the Wolverines are participating in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Wisconsin is hosting the four-day event for the 23rd consecutive year, which runs Feb. 12-15 at the Nielsen Tennis Center in Madison, Wis. Matches will take place each day at 9 a.m. CST and 3:30 p.m. CST, with the championship final slated for Monday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. CST. Each team is guaranteed at least three matches, with the finalists playing four. If a team loses a match, the draw will be re-done so that, if possible, all teams will play an opponent noT on its regular-season schedule. In the 22 previous years of the tournament, the tournament champion or runner-up has gone on to win the NCAA title 14 times.

Road to Madison -- The Wolverines advanced to the National Indoor Team Championships by winning their regional two weeks ago (Jan. 29-30). After falling behind 3-1 to No. 16 South Carolina in the opening round (Jan. 29), freshman Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) and Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall School) won at the No. 5 and No. 6 positions to tie the match at 3-3. Junior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) THEN stormed back for a three-set win at No. 1 singles over No. 38 Ana Zubori to put U-M in the championship match of the regional. Against No. 18 Arkansas (Jan. 30), U-M won the doubles point and four-of-six singles matches to defeat the host Razorbacks, 5-2, advancing to the national tournament. The Wolverines are the only No. 3 regional seed to advance and one of only three non-No. 1 regional seeds headed to Madison, Wis., for the 16-team tournament.

About the Opponents -- Michigan will take on No. 7 Florida in the first round of the national tournament.

No. 7 Florida -- The 6-0 Gators are coming into the tournament off a 7-0 shutout over No. 46 South Florida (Feb. 8). Florida features four ranked singles player and three ranked doubles pairings, led by No. 13 Allie Will and No. 15 Lauren Embree, who are both undefeated in dual-match play. The two pair up in doubles for a No. 5 overall ranking. Michigan and Florida have met only once, with Florida winning a 5-0 match in the 1997 NCAA Championships (May 9, 1997).

The rest of the field -- The top 12-ranked teams will participate this weekend, with host Wisconsin the only team that is not ranked in the top 25. The field features six ACC schools (Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina), three Big Ten schools (U-M, Wisconsin, Northwestern), three SEC schools (Georgia, Florida, Tennessee), three PAC-10 schools (California, Southern California, UCLA) and one Big 12 school in Baylor. The tournament features 18 of the top 25 singles players and 11 of the top 25 doubles pairings.

Michigan Splits a Pair -- In the first two of four February home matches for the Maize and Blue, U-M split the weekend action. Michigan shut out Syracuse in a 7-0 win (Feb. 6) before falling 4-3 to No. 13 Notre Dame (Feb. 7). U-M dropped only the No. 1 doubles match to the Orange, in its second 7-0 win of the season. Michigan dropped a hard-fought 4-3 match to the Irish the next day for its first loss of the season. The Wolverines won the doubles point before Michelle Sulahian took the No. 6 match to put U-M up 2-0. ND won three of the next four singles matches to tie the score at 3-3, leaving the No. 3 match as the deciding one. Junior Rika Tatsuno (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) battled back for a 7-5 second-set win after dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6. In the third and deciding set, the junior fell 6-0 to Chrissie McGaffigan to seal the win for the Irish.

Doubles Success -- The Wolverines have had success in doubles action this year, winning all five doubles points. The No. 2 duo of Whitney Taney (Edina, Minn./Edina) and Rika Tatsuno and the No. 3 pairing of Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian are both 5-0 on the young season. In head coach Ronni Bernstein's three seasons, U-M has won the doubles point in 40- of-55 dual matches.

Michigan in the Rankings -- After knocking off No. 16 South Carolina and No. 18 Arkansas, the Wolverines continued their climb up the national rankings. In the latest rankings (Feb. 4), U-M comes in at No. 16 after starting the season at No. 20. In the first ITA singles rankings of the season (Jan. 5), junior Denise Muresan earned the first ranking of her career at No. 36.

Schedule Heats Up -- In the first five matches of the 2010 season, Michigan has already faced three top-25 opponents (No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 16 South Carolina, No. 18 Arkansas) and will continue to face the top competition in the country the rest of the month. This weekend, all but one possible opponent is ranked in the top 21 (Wisconsin) with No. 7 Florida up first. Following this weekend's action, U-M will travel to top-ranked Duke (Feb. 20) before returning home to face No. 24 Texas Christian (Feb. 24) and No. 5 Baylor (Feb. 26).

Bernstein and the Shutout -- In her third season now at Michigan, head coach Ronni Bernstein's teams have shut out opponents 18 times after 7-0 blankings of Western Michigan (Jan. 24) and Syracuse (Feb. 6). The Wolverines have earned a 7-0 shutout 15 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.

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.

Muresan Has a Breakout Fall -- 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. Every other Wednesday during the 2010 season, Taney will give a glimpse into the women's tennis team in her blog, Serving It Up. [ Past Entries ]

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.

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.

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.

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. 20
-- at Duke (Durham, N.C.), Noon