Week #16: Wolverines to Head to NCAA Championships
Michelle Sulahian

May 15, 2012

NCAA Team Championships (Athens, Ga.)
Live Scoring | Live Video | Tournament Central | NCAA Tournament Bracket
Thursday, May 17 -- vs. No. 2 Florida, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 19 -- Quarterfinals, 4 p.m.
Sunday, May 21 -- Semifinals, 1 p.m.
Monday, May 22 -- National Championship, 1 p.m.

The No. 15-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (21-7) will compete in its third consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 this week, traveling to Athens, Ga., to face No. 2 Florida, the defending national champion, in the third round of the NCAA Championships on Thursday (May 17). The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Center.

Michigan in the NCAA Tourney -- The Wolverines are making their 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their 14th overall. After last weekend's 2-0 mark, the Maize and Blue owns a 15-12 ledger in tournament matches. U-M has advanced to the Sweet 16 four times in program history, including each of the last three seasons. In Ronni Bernstein's tenure at Michigan, the Wolverines are 8-4 in NCAA matches.

Sweeping Through the Regional -- The Wolverines took advantage of playing in front of the home crowd last weekend, earning back-to-back wins in the NCAA first and second rounds to advance to their third straight Sweet 16. Michigan cruised past Illinois-Chicago, 4-0, in its first match, earning the doubles point and the first three singles matches off court. U-M rallied to defeat Texas A&M, 4-3, in the second round; after dropping the doubles point, the Wolverines claimed four singles matches, including a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 upset win from sophomore Brooke Bolender in the final match of the dual.

A Look at Florida -- The Gators, the defending NCAA champion, carry a 13-1 record into the Sweet 16 after defeating South Carolina State (4-0) and Washington State (6-0) in the NCAA first and second rounds last weekend. Florida's lone loss of the season came at Stanford, 5-2, on Feb, 12. The Gators boast six nationally ranked singles players, most notably No. 1 Allie Will and No. 9 Lauren Embree, and three ranked doubles pairings, including the nation's No. 1 pairing of Will and Sofie Oyen. The Wolverines are 0-2 in the all-time series against Florida, falling, 5-2, in the most-recent meeting at the 2010 ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

Against the Rest of the Field -- Of the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA Championships, Michigan already faced five of them this season -- Duke, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and Northwestern.

Playing the Best -- Of Michigan's 26 opponents this season, 15 qualified for the NCAA Championships, including three teams seeded among the tournament's top 10. The Wolverines went 9-7 against NCAA competition, knocking off Yale, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Hawaii, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois and Nebraska. U-M dropped matches to Tennessee, Duke, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Northwestern and Purdue.

Individual Effort -- Freshman Emina Bektas and sophomore Brooke Bolender will represent the Wolverines at the 2012 NCAA Individual Championships, to be held May 23-28. Bektas earned a 9-16 seed for the singles competition, guaranteeing herself ITA All-America status, and will team with Bolender for the 32-team doubles competition.

Where We Rank -- Michigan holds the No. 15 position in the most-recent ITA rankings, released Monday, April 30. U-M boasts two individual singles rankings and a top-10 doubles rankings. Freshman Emina Bektas headlines the contingent with the No. 12 ranking, while sophomore Brooke Bolender checks in at No. 93. On the doubles side, Michigan's duo of Bektas and Bolender list as the nation's No. 11 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. For postseason competition, once the doubles point has been clinched, the remaining doubles matches will not be completed. 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. All other matches in progress when the match point is clinched will be abandoned.

Complete Statistics: Through May 12


Reaching 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 106-30 record. 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 271-101 (.728) career coaching record.

Poise Under Pressure -- Sophomore Brooke Bolender clinched U-M's 4-3 win over Texas A&M in the NCAA second round with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 decision against No. 53-ranked Nazari Urbina in the final match. She is 2-2 this season in duals decided by her final match. She propelled U-M into the ITA Indoor Team Championships with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over Yale's Blair Seideman in the Kickoff Weekend finale on Jan. 29. Two weeks ago, she fell to Purdue's Lynda Xepoleas, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (5), in the Big Ten Tournament championship match.

Champs Again! -- With a 5-2 decision against rival Ohio State on Sunday, April 22, the Wolverines locked up a share of their third consecutive Big Ten championship. Michigan swept the doubles point to take the early advantage before coasting through singles play, capturing the four of the first five matches off court. The title is Michigan's fourth overall and marks the first time the Wolverines have won three straight titles.

In Rare Air -- Michigan is one of just four Big Ten schools to win a Big Ten championship, joining Northwestern, Indiana and Wisconsin on the list. In addition, U-M, Northwestern and Indiana are the only schools to win more than one championship. Beginning in 2009, the regular-season champion was declared the Big Ten champion with the tournament winner designated as the Big Ten Tournament champion. The Wolverines are in search of their second tournament title, winning it all in 1997.

Double Dip -- The Wolverines have lost just three doubles matches in their last nine dual contests, sweeping the doubles competition in each of their final four regular-season dual matches and winning the first two off court in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. Michigan has claimed the doubles point in 18 of 28 dual matches this season, combining for a 54-22 doubles record in dual action. U-M dropped the doubles point, however, in its latest appearance against Texas A&M, rallying from the initial deficit to earn its fourth comeback win of the season.

Strong on Top -- Michigan's No. 1 doubles team of freshman Emina Bektasand sophomore Brooke Bolender saw its 12-match winning streak snapped against Texas A&M's 29th-ranked Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun. The duo, listed No. 11 in the latest ITA doubles poll, is 7-6 against ranked opponents this season. They own a stellar 31-9 record and are 23-4 in dual matches from the No. 1 position.

Freshman Phenom(s) -- Freshmen Emina Bektas and Sarah Lee lead the Wolverine team in wins with similar 32-9 overall records. The duo already owns a share of the fifth position among Michigan's all-time single-season leaders, where they are tied with Christine Schmeidel (1990) and senior Michelle Sulahian (2010). Michigan had three players with more than 30 wins last year, including then-freshmen Brooke Bolender and Sam Critser. Bolender established a new Michigan record in the category with 35 wins.

Climbing the Charts -- Senior Michelle Sulahian claimed a pair of singles wins in NCAA Regional play to improve to 85-48 in her collegiate career, solidifying her hold on the 10th position among Michigan's all-time singles wins leaders. She needs one more win to reach the eighth position, currently held by Debra Streifler (86, 2003-06) and Kalei Beamon (86, 1990-93). Junior Mimi Nguyen split her weekend matches to improve to career singles record to 80-33 and move to 13th among U-M's all-time singles win leaders. She is tied with Danielle Lund (1997-2000) and needs two wins to reach the 11th position.

No Longer Streaking -- The Wolverines saw their Big Ten regular-season winning streak halted at 31 consecutive matches with their 4-3 loss against Northwestern on April 8. U-M boasted perfect 10-0 conference records en route to Big Ten team titles in each of the last two seasons.

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 106-30 overall record and 48-3 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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Wed-Mon., May 23-28 -- at NCAA Individual Championships (Athens, Ga.)

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423