Weekly Release #13: Wolverines Play for Big Ten Title at Home

April 20, 2010

Saturday, April 24 -- vs. #21 Illinois (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Live Results/Video
Sunday, April 25 -- vs. Indiana (Varsity Tennis Center), 11 a.m.
Live Results/Video
*If match is played outdoors, video will not be available*

The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team closes out the regular season at home this weekend while looking to wrap up its second Big Ten title, first hosting No. 21 Illinois (13-7, 7-1 Big Ten) on Saturday (April 24) at noon. U-M will then honor senior Tania Mahtani prior to Sunday's (April 25) match against Indiana (14-7, 4-4 Big Ten) at 11 a.m.

Looking For Second Big Ten Championship -- U-M is looking to wrap up its second Big Ten title this weekend against Illinois and Indiana. Entering the final weekend of conference competition, Michigan is the only remaining undefeated team. If the Wolverines win both matches, they will be the outright conference champions. If multiple teams finish at 9-1, the teams will share the conference championship with seeding for the tournament based on a series of tiebreakers.

The Wolverines won their only other Big Ten title during the 1997 season, running the table in the regular season and winning the tournament. Until 1999, the tournament champion was considered the conference champion. Beginning in 1999, the regular-season winner was declared Big Ten women's tennis regular-season champion with the championship used to determine the "Big Ten Conference champion" and NCAA automatic qualifier.

Playing for the Title -- Saturday's (April 24) match against Illinois will be a big one, as the Fighting Illini are a match behind the Wolverines in the conference standings. With a loss to Illinois, it would put U-M, Illinois and Northwestern all with one loss in Big Ten play, most likely resulting in a three-way tie for the conference title.

Honoring Mahtani -- The Wolverines will honor their lone senior, Tania Mahtani, prior to Sunday's match against Indiana for her contributions to the program. Mahtani is a four-time U-M Athletic Academic Achievement award winner, along with being an academic All-Big Ten honoree (2008-09). The senior ranks fourth on the career singles wins list, compiling 88 victories during her tenure in the Maize and Blue. In doubles, she has dropped only one Big Ten match throughout her four years, going 36-1 in conference action. Overall, she has 176 career victories with 115 of them coming in dual matches.

Running to 12 at Purdue -- The Wolverines continued their winning ways this past Saturday (April 17), picking up their 12th consecutive win with a 6-1 defeat of Purdue. U-M won the doubles point for the 14th straight match and picked up five singles win to remain undefeated in Big Ten action (8-0).

Streaking Singles -- Mimi Nguyen has won her last 13 dual matches with her last loss coming when she retired against Laurianne Henry of Clemson after U-M had already clinched the match. She has an 18-2 dual-match record after seeing time at No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Tania Mahtani has won her last six, while Denise Muresan and Michelle Sulahian have each won nine of their last 10 matches.

18 times 3 -- With a win at Purdue, U-M reached the 18-win plateau for the third consecutive season under Ronni Bernstein. In 2008, Bernstein's first season at the helm, the Wolverines went 19-6. Last season, Michigan finished with an 18-7 overall record. If Michigan wins both matches this weekend, Bernstein will join former coach Bitsy Ritt (1997) as the only coaches to lead U-M to an undefeated conference record. It will also mark the third time in program history that U-M reached 20 wins (1990, 1997).

Muresan Moving Up - Denise Muresan, who has a 30-11 overall record, is currently in third place on the single-season wins list. Muresan is tied with Chisako Sugiyama, who went 30-6 in 2007. With her win over No. 66 Kirsten Flower of Ohio State (April 11), Muresan became one of only four Wolverines to hit the 30-win plateau. Sarah Cyganiak holds the single-season record with 34 wins, set in 1995.

100 at the VTC -- The Wolverines picked up the program's 100th win at the Varsity Tennis Center in their 6-1 win over Ohio State (April 11). U-M sports a 100-36 all-time mark at the VTC, including a 25-2 mark in Ronni Bernstein's three-year tenure.

Michigan in the Rankings -- The Wolverines remained in the top five in the latest ITA rankings (April 20), staying at No. 4 for the second consecutive week. Denise Muresan is the only Wolverine ranked in singles, coming in at No. 21. Juniors Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno are ranked No. 31 as doubles pair.

Conference Time is Big Time -- After a slow start to the dual-match season, Tania Mahtani has gone 7-1 in Big Ten play while pairing with Denise Muresan for an 8-0 conference doubles record. In addition, no one on the Wolverines' roster has more than two losses in conference action. Mimi Nguyen is the lone unbeaten Wolverine at 8-0, while Mahtani and Muresan are 7-1, Sulahian is 6-1 and Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno are both 6-2. In doubles, U-M has dropped only one match in 24 total doubles matches.

Knocking off Northwestern -- For the first time since 1997, U-M picked up a win over Northwestern, defeating the Wildcats, 4-3. In the process, Michigan snapped NU's 81-match Big Ten win streak that dated back to April 2004.

A Season of Firsts -- The lists of accomplishments for the Wolverines this season continues to grow with each passing weekend. U-M defeated its first top-10 opponent with a win over No. 6 Miami at the ITA Indoor Championships on Feb. 13. The Wolverines then knocked off their first top-five opponent in program history with a win over No. 5 Baylor on Feb. 26 before beating their highest-ranked foe ever in No. 4 Northwestern on April 3. U-M has garnered the program's highest-ever ranking (No. 3) while making its first trip to the ITA Indoor Championships.

Dynamite Doubles -- U-M has won the doubles point in all but one match this season (No. 4 Florida, Feb. 12), sporting an 18-2 record when grabbing the early 1-0 lead. Since Big Ten play has started, U-M is 23-1 in doubles across the three positions. Since moving to the No. 3 position against No. 32 TCU, Tania Mahtani and Denise Muresan are 12-0, which coincides with the Wolverines' current win streak.

Bernstein Against the Big Ten -- Since taking over in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2007, head coach Ronni Bernstein is 26-2 against Big Ten opposition.

Playing the Best -- So far this season, U-M has faced 10 top-25 foes. 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. 4 Northwestern (4-3), 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. 18 Iowa (6-1).

About the Opponents
Illinois -- The Fighting Illini, ranked No. 21 in the latest ITA rankings, come in with a 13-7 overall record and 7-1 Big Ten mark. Illinois is essentially playing for a share of the Big Ten title on Saturday, with its lone loss coming to Northwestern. A Michigan loss would put all three teams (U-M, Illinois and Northwestern) with one loss. The Illini have won their last six matches and 10 of the last 11. No. 83 Megan Fudge leads the way in singles, winning her last six matches for a 16-4 dual-match record. Leigh Finnegan enters this weekend as the only Illini player undefeated in Big Ten action (8-0).

Indiana -- The No. 43 Hoosiers (14-7, 4-4 Big Ten) will play in East Lansing against Michigan State on Saturday (April 24) before coming to Ann Arbor to wrap up the regular season. Indiana features the No. 70 doubles duo of Lindsey Stuckey and Evgeniya Vertesheva, while Vertesheva sports a 6-2 Big Ten singles mark.

Dual Match Format -- This weekend'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.

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. [ Release ]

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Ronni Bernstein is in 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.

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.

Thu-Sun., April 29-May 2
-- at Big Ten Championships (Iowa City, Iowa)