Week #11: U-M to Hit VTC Courts to Host No. 19 Illini, No. 14 Wildcats

April 4, 2012

Saturday, April 7 -- vs. No. 19 Illinois (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Live Video/Scoreboard | Promotions: Return Winner Weekend
Sunday, April 8 -- vs. No. 14 Northwestern (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Live Video/Scoreboard | Promotions: Sunday Sundaes, AAACTA Invite, Club Tennis Invite

The No. 15-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (12-5, 5-0 Big Ten) returns home this weekend to host a pair of Big Ten Conference duals at the Varsity Tennis Center. U-M will face No. 19 Illinois (12-5, 4-1 Big Ten) at noon on Saturday (April 7) before wrapping the weekend on Sunday (April 8) with a noon match against No. 14 Northwestern (10-7, 4-1 Big Ten).

A Look at Illinois -- The Fighting Illini are 12-5 overall this season and own a 4-1 record in Big Ten play after knocking off Wisconsin (7-0, March 30) and Minnesota (6-1, April 1) on the road last weekend. Illinois boasts one nationally ranked singles player in No. 125 Melissa Kopinski, who carries an 11-2 dual record while splitting time at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. Michigan leads the all-time series against the Illini with a 25-11 mark and earned a 7-0 shutout in last season's meeting.

A Look at Northwestern - The Wildcats are 10-7 on the season and 4-1 in Big Ten play after earning back-to-back wins against Minnesota (6-2, March 30) and Wisconsin (6-1, April 1) last weekend. The Wildcats boast two individually ranked singles players, most notably No. 21 Kate Turvy, and a pair of ranked doubles teams. Michigan trails in the all-time series against Northwestern, 46-10, but has split the last four contests, winning the regular-season dual matches in 2010 and 2011 before falling in the Big Ten Tournament each season. The Wildcats claimed the most-recent meeting, 4-3, in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament final.

Where We Rank -- Despite extending its win streak to five in a row, Michigan dropped a spot, falling to the No. 15 position, in the latest ITA rankings, released Tuesday (April 3), and boast four individual singles rankings and a top-10 doubles rankings. Freshman Emina Bektas headlines the contingent with the No. 10 ranking. Sophomore Brooke Bolender checks in at No. 65, while junior Mimi Nguyen and sophomore Sam Critser round out the Wolverine contingent at the No. 114 and No. 121 positions, respectively. On the doubles side, Michigan's duo of Bektas and Bolender list as the nation's No. 7 pairing. [ ITA Rankings ]

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.

Last Time Out -- The Wolverines claimed a pair of wins over Big Ten opponents last weekend, downing Purdue (5-2, March 31) and Indiana (4-3, April 1) to extend their winning streak to five straight matches and improve to 5-0 in conference play. Michigan claimed the doubles point in both contests, combining for a 5-0 doubles record on the weekend. U-M took four-of-six singles matches against Purdue, earning all four wins in straight sets, and split singles matches against Indiana. Freshman Kristen Dodge rallied from a significant deficit to clinch the latter dual with a 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 decision at the No. 6 spot. Freshman Sarah Lee was the lone Wolverine to post a perfect record on the weekend, going 2-0 from the No. 3 singles position and posting a 1-0 mark in doubles play. [ Recaps: Purdue | Indiana ]

Complete Statistics: Through April 1


Big Start in the Big Ten -- With its 5-0 start in Big Ten competition, Michigan extended its conference winning streak to 30 consecutive regular-season dual matches, dating back to the 2008-09 campaign. U-M boasted perfect 10-0 conference record in each of the last two seasons.

Fabulous Freshmen -- Freshmen Sarah Lee and Emina Bektas have been nearly perfect in dual competition for the Wolverines this season, ranking 1-2 in dual-match wins. Lee owns a team-best 15-1 record, playing primarily at the No. 3 position, while Bektas is 13-2 from the No. 1 spot.

Strength in the Middle -- The Wolverines have found great success at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions, compiling a combined 27-6 record between freshman Sarah Lee, junior Mimi Nguyen and sophomore Sam Critser. Lee has posted a 8-1 record at the No. 3 slot and is 7-0 at No. 4, while Nguyen is 6-2 at No. 3 and 5-3 at No. 4. Critser won her lone appearance at the No. 4 position.

Mimi's Moving Up -- Junior Mimi Nguyen earned her 20th singles win over the weekend, improving to 20-9 with a 6-2, 6-2 decision against Indiana's Carolyn Chupa (April 1). Nguyen has registered at least 20 singles wins and 20 doubles victories in each of her three collegiate seasons. With a 72-32 career singles mark, Nguyen ranks 18th among Michigan's all-time winningest players.

Nearing the Century Mark -- The Wolverines have flourished under the leadership of head coach Ronni Bernstein, and in just her fifth year in Ann Arbor, Bernstein has accumulated a 97-28 record, sitting just three wins away from her 100th Michigan win. She already ranks as the second-winningest coach in Michigan program history behind Bitsy Ritt (288-240, 1984-2006). Adding her 10-year tenure at Florida International, Bernstein boasts a 262-99 (.726) career coaching record.

Climbing the Charts -- Senior Michelle Sulahian owns an 82-43 record in her collegiate singles career to earn a share of the 10th position among Michigan's all-time career win leaders, where she is tied with Elizabeth Exon (2004-07) and Elizabeth Cyganiak (1992-95). She needs four more wins to reach the eighth spot, currently held by Debra Striefler (86-37, 2003-06) and Kalei Beamon (86-57, 1990-93).

Ronni's Team Tough at Home -- The Wolverines' defeat against North Carolina on March 18 was just the third home loss under the guidance of fifth-year head coach Ronni Bernstein. Since Bernstein took over the Michigan program prior to the 2008 dual-match season, the Wolverines have compiled an impressive 45-3 record at home. U-M lost to then-No. 1 Northwestern during the 2009 season and then-No. 13 Notre Dame in 2010 to account for the other two losses at the Varsity Tennis Center during her tenure.

No. 1 in our Hearts -- Freshman Emina Bektas and sophomore Brooke Bolender, the Wolverines' top doubles pairing, knocked off Notre Dame's No. 1-ranked Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews, 8-4, on Wednesday, March 21. The U-M duo battled back to hold serve in the fifth game and took over in the next, going up 4-2 to take the lead for good. It was Bektas and Bolender's second doubles win over a top-five opponent this season. They previously claimed an 8-5 victory over Georgia's pairing of Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist, the nation's No. 2 doubles team in their ITA National Indoors finale against Georgia.

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Ronni Bernstein is in her fifth year in Ann Arbor, compiling an 97-28 overall record and 43-2 Big Ten mark in her first four years. The Wolverines have strung together the best two-year span in program history during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, going 24-5 in both campaigns while winning two Big Ten championships. For her efforts, Bernstein has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year in both seasons. Teryn Ashley-Fitch is in her sixth year at Michigan and was promoted to associate head coach last summer after earning ITA Midwest Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 2010.

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Friday, April 13 -- at Nebraska (Lincoln, Neb.), 3 p.m. CDT
Sunday, April 15 -- at Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa), 11 a.m. CDT

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423