Weekly Release #5: U-M Travels to Sixth-Ranked Duke

Feb. 16, 2010

Saturday, Feb. 20 -- at No. 6 Duke (Durham, N.C.), Noon
Live Results

After a 2-1 weekend at the ITA Indoor Team Championships last weekend (Fri-Sun., Feb. 12-14), the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (6-2) travels to sixth-ranked Duke for a Saturday (Feb. 20) matchup at noon. It is only the second true road match for the Wolverines this year.

Big Upsets at ITA Indoors -- In their first-ever appearance at the ITA Indoor Team Championships, the Wolverines showed they belong on the national stage after going 2-1 with wins over higher ranked opponents. After falling to No. 4 Florida, 5-2, on the first day of competition (Feb. 12), U-M regrouped to win its next two matches. Against No. 6 Miami, freshman Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) came through in a huge way, saving a match point in the second set before winning a three-set thriller (6-7, 7-6, 6-1) to clinch the match for Michigan. The triumph over Miami gave head coach Ronni Bernstein her first wins over a top-10 opponent and her alma mater during her tenure at Michigan. The next day against No. 14 Clemson, Michigan won the doubles point and four-of-six singles matches for a 5-2 victory, highlighted by junior Denise Muresan's (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) win over No. 9 Josipa Bek at No. 1 singles. U-M's win was the first win over Clemson in program history.

Playing the Best -- Through the first eight matches of the year, U-M has faced six top-25 opponents -- all higher ranked the Wolverines. Michigan has gone 4-2 in those matches, falling only to No. 4 Florida (5-2) and No. 13 Notre Dame (4-3). The Maize and Blue has knocked off No. 6 Miami (Fla.) (4-3), No. 14 Clemson (5-2), No. 16 South Carolina (4-3) and No. 18 Arkansas (5-2). The schedule continues to heat up in the next few weeks as Michigan travels to No. 6 Duke (Feb. 20) before returning home to host No. 23 TCU (Feb. 24) and No. 5 Baylor (Feb. 26).

Stepping Up -- Even though the Wolverines feature five upperclassmen, U-M only returned two players that had experience at No. 1 singles. Senior Tania Mahtani (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) lost her only match at No. 1, while junior Rika Tatsuno (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) was 4-4 in eight matches at the top spot. After Denise Muresan went 15-5 in tournament action to earn a No. 36 singles ranking, she has stepped into the No. 1 spot and has performed well. Through eight matches, the junior is 6-2 with wins over No. 9 Josipa Bek of Clemson, No. 15 Lauren Embree of Florida and No. 38 Ana Zubori of South Carolina.

Stepping Up Part Two -- The same can be said about the younger part of the Wolverine team as Mimi Nguyen and sophomore Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall School) have solidified the bottom of the lineup. Nguyen, 6-2 on the year, saved a match point in the second set before going on to defeat No. 93 Gabriela Mejia and clinch the upset win over No. 6 Miami (Fla.). Sulahian has a 6-1 record and won her first five matches before dropping a three-set decision to Florida's Claire Bartlett. The diminutive duo, both listed at 5' 4", has also has combined for a 7-1 mark in doubles, helping Michigan win all but one doubles point this season.

About the Opponent
No. 6 Duke - Michigan is 1-5 all-time versus the Blue Devils, defeating Duke (5-4) during the 1983-84 season. These two teams last met in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, with Duke winning the first-round match-up, 4-1. Duke captured the 2009 national title and is 7-1 on the year after falling to North Carolina in the semifinals of the ITA Indoor Team Championships. The Blue Devils feature four ranked singles players, led by No. 20 Reka Zsilinszka, who is 4-3 in dual match action. Duke has only dropped eight singles matches all season with Elizabeth Plotkin boasting a perfect 8-0 record. In doubles, Duke is 21-3 in dual matches having only lost the doubles point in its loss to No. 11 North Carolina.

Dual Match Format -- This weekend's dual match will be a contest 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 in the Rankings - The Wolverines have continued their steady climb up the ITA rankings this season, moving up to No. 7 in the latest edition (Feb. 18) after starting the season at No. 20. In the first ITA singles rankings of the season, junior Denise Muresan earned the first ranking of her career at No. 36. New team, singles and doubles rankings are all slated to be released this week (Feb. 18).

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.

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, Ariz., 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.

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.

Wednesday, Feb. 24
-- vs. TCU (Varsity Tennis Center), 6 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 26 -- vs. Baylor (Varsity Tennis Center), 6 p.m.