Weekly Release #7: Michigan Travels to the West Coast

March 1, 2010

Wednesday, March 3 -- at Loyola Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.), 1:30 p.m. PST
Friday, March 5 -- at No. 35 Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.), 1:30 p.m. PST

The No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (8-3) heads out west to California this week for a pair of matches as part of its spring break trip. First up for U-M is Loyola Marymount (1-4) on Wednesday (March 3) at 1:30 p.m. PST in Los Angeles, Calif. The Wolverines will then drive up the coast to Malibu for a Friday (March 5) match at No. 35 Pepperdine (4-6) at 1:30 p.m. PST.

First Win Over a Top 5 -- Despite dropping five of six first sets in singles action, the Wolverines regrouped to defeat No. 5 Baylor on Friday night (Feb. 26) at the Varsity Tennis Center, marking the program's first win over a top-five opponent. Michigan started the night strong, using wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles to take the doubles point for the fifth consecutive match. Sophomore Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall School) was the first Wolverine to win a singles match, picking up a 7-5, 6-3 win at No. 6. Freshman Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) recovered from dropping her first set to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4, putting U-M on top (3-2).

After U-M dropped the No. 3 match, junior captain Whitney Taney (Edina, Minn./Edina) was the only Wolverine left on court with the score knotted at 3-3. The junior came through in her third set, breaking No. 91 Taylor Ormand to go up 5-4 and serve out the match for the upset win. The triumph was Michigan's second over a top-10 foe this season (4-3 vs. No. 6 Miami).

Doubles + 4 + 5 + 6 -- In last week's matches against No. 5 Baylor and No. 32 TCU (Feb. 24), that was the winning formula for the Wolverines. U-M picked up the doubles point in both matches and used singles wins at the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 positions for the two victories. Mimi Nguyen (No. 4), Whitney Taney (No. 5) and Michelle Sulahian (No. 6) were all undefeated, while Nguyen and Sulahian teamed up for a perfect 2-0 record at No. 2 doubles. The doubles pair of senior Tania Mahtani (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) and junior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) was also 2-0 in the two matches to help U-M to a 2-0 week.

On the Road... -- This week's action starts a streak of seven consecutive matches for the Wolverines away from the Varsity Tennis Center. After matches at Loyola Marymount (March 3) and No. 35 Pepperdine (March 5), U-M will return to the Midwest and begin Big Ten play. Michigan will kick off conference action at Michigan State (March 20) before heading to Iowa (March 27), Minnesota (March 28), Northwestern (April 3) and Wisconsin (April 4). On the year, Michigan sports a 1-1 road record, having played four neutral site matches.

But Going Home -- Michigan may be away from its VTC home, but four of the Wolverines will be heading to their home with this week's spring break trip. Tania Mahtani, junior Rika Tatsuno (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula), Michelle Sulahian and Mimi Nguyen will all make their return to their home state of California. Mahtani and Tatusno's hometown of Rancho Palos Verdes is about 32 miles away from Los Angeles, the site of the Wolverines' first match against Loyola Marymount. Nguyen's home of Long Beach is about 25 miles away, while Sulahian lives the closest, just a 15-mile drive away. Sure beats the 2,242-mile commute to Ann Arbor!

Doubles Success -- The Wolverines have won the doubles point in all but one match this season (vs. No. 4 Florida). When starting off with the one-point advantage heading into singles play, U-M is 8-2. The pairing of Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian is 10-1, while Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno are 9-2 in doubles.

Michigan in the Rankings -- The Wolverines are ranked No. 8 as a team, making a big move after the ITA Indoors (Feb. 12-15) when they defeated No. 6 Miami and No. 14 Clemson. After moving up to No. 7, the highest ranking in program history, U-M dropped a tough match at No. 6 Duke to fall to No. 8. In addition to earning the program's highest ranking this season, it is also first time the Wolverines have ever been ranked in the top 10. The highest U-M had ever been previously ranked was No. 16. Junior Denise Muresan is currently ranked No. 16 in singles after picking up wins over the No. 9, No. 15 and No. 38 players in the country.

Playing the Best -- Through the first 11 matches of the year, U-M has faced eight top-25 opponents -- all higher ranked the Wolverines. Michigan has gone 5-3 in those matches, falling to No. 4 Florida (5-2), No. 6 Duke (5-2) and No. 13 Notre Dame (4-3). The Maize and Blue has knocked off No. 5 Baylor (4-3), No. 6 Miami (4-3), No. 14 Clemson (5-2), No. 16 South Carolina (4-3) and No. 18 Arkansas (5-2).

About the Opponents
Loyola Marymount -- The Lions are 1-4 on the season after weather postponed their last match against conference opponent San Diego (Feb. 27). LMU's lone season win came against Hawaii, a 4-3 victory on Feb. 8. In dual matches, the Lions have an 8-22 singles record along with a 4-11 doubles mark. The Lions have three players with a 2-2 singles record and are coming off a 7-0 loss to No. 4 UCLA (Feb. 19).

No. 37 Pepperdine -- The No. 37 Waves (4-6) kick off a stretch of 11 consecutive home matches on Friday against U-M. Pepperdine is coming off a 4-3 loss to No. 30 UNLV (Feb. 28) where the Waves won at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 singles in the loss. Pepperdine features the No. 98-ranked player in Ali Walters.

Dual Match Format -- This week's dual matches 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.

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.

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.

Saturday, March 20
-- at Michigan State (East Lansing, Mich.), 2 p.m.