Weekly Release #8: U-M Kicks Off Big Ten Action at Michigan State

March 15, 2010

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

The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (10-3) opens up Big Ten Conference action this weekend, traveling to East Lansing for a matchup with Michigan State (5-7). The in-state rivals are slated to square off on Saturday (March 20) at 2 p.m.


Highest Ranking -- In the March 9 edition of the ITA rankings, the Wolverines moved up to No. 6, the highest ranking in program history. After an idle weekend, the Wolverines shifted to No. 8 in this week's edition (March 16). The No. 6 position improved upon the No. 7 ranking U-M received after a 2-1 weekend at the ITA Indoor Championships (Feb. 12-15). Prior to this season, the highest Michigan had ever been in the polls was No. 16.

Spring Break Recap -- The Wolverines headed out west for their spring break trip, defeating Loyola Marymount (March 3), 7-0, before taking down No. 35 Pepperdine (March 5), 6-1. U-M dropped only one singles match and one doubles match throughout the two-match swing. Freshman Mimi Nguyen (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) picked up two wins at No. 3 singles, improving to a team-best 11-2 during dual-match play.

4 times 2 -- The Wolverines have won four straight matches, marking the second time this season U-M has strung together a four-match win streak. The longest winning streak for the Wolverines was a 16-match tear during the 2008 season. U-M did not drop a match from Feb. 22 through April 26 during Ronni Bernstein's first year at the helm.

Three in Doubles -- The Wolverines feature three players who have already reached the double-digit win plateau in dual matches. Mimi Nguyen leads the way with an 11-2 record through the first 13 matches. Sophomore Michelle Sulahian (Valley Glen, Calif./Campbell Hall School) is 10-2 while junior captain Whitney Taney (Edina, Minn./Edina) is 10-3. Nguyen is on a five-match winning streak while Sulahian and Taney have each won their last four matches.

Bernstein Against the Big Ten -- Since taking over in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2007, head coach Ronni Bernstein is 18-2 against Big Ten opposition. The only team that Bernstein's Wolverines have not defeated has been Northwestern, which was ranked No. 1 in 2009 and No. 2 in 2008.

On the Road -- The Wolverines are in the midst of a seven-match road swing. After matches at Loyola Marymount (March 3) and No. 37 Pepperdine (March 5) two weeks ago, U-M is now back in the Midwest for Big Ten play. Michigan kicks 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 season, Michigan sports a 3-1 road record, having also played four neutra-site matches.

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 10-2. The pairing of Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian and the duo of Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno are both 11-2.

Accomplishing BIG Things -- The Wolverines have had quite a start to the 2010 season. So far this season, U-M has garnered its highest ranking in program history (No. 6), defeated a top-10 team for the first time ever (No. 6 Miami) and followed that up with its first win over a top-five opponent (No. 5 Baylor). The 10-3 start is the best start since Michigan opened the 2004 dual-match season with a 12-1 record.

Michigan in the Rankings -- The Wolverines are ranked No. 8 as a team with junior Denise Muresan (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) garnering the only singles ranking (No. 26).

Playing the Best -- Through the first 13 matches of the campaign, U-M has faced 10 ranked opponents, including seven top-25 opponents. Michigan has gone 7-3 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), No. 18 Arkansas (5-2), No. 32 TCU (4-3) and No. 35 Pepperdine (6-1).

About the Opponent
Michigan State -- The Wolverines own a dominant 41-17 edge in the all-time series, having not lost to the Spartans since a 4-3 loss in 2002. MSU enters the dual match with a 5-7 overall record, dropping its last three matches. The Spartans and Wolverines have both played Western Michigan and Syracuse with U-M sweeping the opponents while Michigan State dropped both contests. Junior Whitney Wilson is the only Spartan with a winning record in dual-match play, sporting a 7-3 record. The Spartans have won the doubles point eight times this season, with Wilson and freshman Amy Barton featuring a team-best record of 10-2 in dual matches.

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.

Bernstein and the Shutout -- In her third season now at Michigan, head coach Ronni Bernstein's teams have shut out opponents 19 times after 7-0 blankings of Western Michigan (Jan. 24), Syracuse (Feb. 6) and Loyola Marymount (March 3). The Wolverines have earned a 7-0 shutout 16 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 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.

Duo Signs to Join Wolverines -- Brooke Bolender, a Blue Chip recruit, along with five-star recruit Samantha Critser will join the Wolverines for the 2010-11 season. Together, the two make up the No. 6 recruiting class in the country. [ Read Release ]

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 27
-- at Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa), 11 a.m. CDT
Sunday, March 28 -- at Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minn.), Noon CDT