Weekly Release #16: Wolverines Off to NCAA Team Championships
Michelle Sulahian

May 17, 2010


NCAA Team Championships (Athens, Ga.)

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Thursday, May 20 -- vs. #14 Tennessee, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 22 -- Quarterfinals, 4 p.m.
Monday, May 24 -- Semifinals, 2 p.m.
Tuesday, May 25 -- National Championship, 2 p.m.

The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (24-4) heads to the NCAA Sweet 16 for only the second time in school history, traveling to the University of Georgia to take on No. 14 Tennessee (18-8) on Thursday (May 20) at 3 p.m. from the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The remainder of the NCAA Championships will take place at the University of Georgia.


Sweeping Through the Regional -- The Wolverines took advantage of playing in front of the home crowd this weekend, picking up a pair of 4-0 victories to head to the NCAA Sweet 16. U-M did not yield a point to either team, first defeating Illinois-Chicago (May 14), using the doubles point and wins at No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6. The following day in the second-round match against Ohio State (May 15), the Wolverines once again won the doubles point and took victories at No. 1, No. 4 and No. 6 for the shutout. The two 4-0 victories mark the first time during postseason play this season that U-M has shut out an opponent.

Moving On -- For the second time in program history, the Wolverines are heading to the finals site of the NCAA Team Championships. The only other appearance for Michigan was in 1997 when the Maize and Blue fell to Florida, 5-0. It is the first time head coach Ronni Bernstein has led her team to the round of 16.

Second Time Against Tennessee -- The Wolverines and Lady Vols already faced each other this season at the Michigan Invitational on Jan. 17, marking the final tournament action of the 2009-10 season. U-M took four-of-six singles matches from Tennessee, highlighted by Denise Muresan's win over then-No. 6 Caitlin Whoriskey at No. 1.

The Lady Vols are the No. 13 seed in the tournament and feature two ranked singles players and three ranked doubles tandems. Whoriskey comes in at No. 11 in singles, while Maria Sorbello is the No. 62-ranked player. In doubles, Whoriskey can team with Natalie Pluskota to form the No. 1 team in the country or with Sorbello for the No. 10 pairing. Rosalia Alda and Zsofia Zubor combine to form the No. 30 doubles duo.

Against the Rest of the Field -- Of the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA Championships, Michigan already faced seven of them this season. U-M came away victorious against Baylor, Clemson, Miami and split with Northwestern. The Wolverines fell to Notre Dame, Florida, Duke and to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament final.

Finally Outdoors -- The Wolverines finally completed a full home weekend of matches outdoors, taking advantage of the weather in preparation for the NCAA Championships at Georgia. Prior to this weekend, U-M had played only one match outdoors at the VTC, a 7-0 win over Penn State on April 10. On the season, Michigan carries a 9-2 record outdoors.

Keep the Awards Coming -- The Wolverines keep racking up the awards, picking up three ITA Midwest Region awards last week. Denise Muresan was named the region's Player to Watch to go along with her Big Ten Player of the Year award. Head coach Ronni Bernstein, the Big Ten Coach of the Year, picked up Coach of the Year accolades for the first time in her career at Michigan. Assistant coach Teryn Ashley-Fitch was named the Assistant Coach of the Year after helping U-M to its most successful season ever. All three are now eligible for the national awards, which will be announced on May 25. [ Release ]

Muresan, Sulahian and Nguyen Moving Up -- Denise Muresan, who has a 33-12 overall record, is now alone in second place on the single-season wins list. Sarah Cyganiak holds the single-season record with 34 wins, set in 1995. In addition, Michelle Sulahian (32) is now tied for third place and Mimi Nguyen (28) sits in a tie for fifth place on the single-season list.

Individual NCAA Championships -- The Wolverines will have representatives at both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships for the first time since 2004. Denise Muresan, currently ranked No. 19, will participate in the singles tournament, while the No. 19-ranked duo of Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno earned the Big Ten's automatic berth to the doubles tournament. The NCAA Individuals begin on May 26 and run through May 31 at the University of Georgia. The draw for both competitions will be announced on May 25.

Playing the Best -- Of U-M's 23 regular-season opponents this season, 15 were invited to the NCAA Championships. Baylor, which the Wolverines defeated 4-3 on Feb. 24, is the No. 1 overall seed with Florida (No. 3), Notre Dame (No. 5), Northwestern (No. 6), Clemson (No. 9), Duke (No. 10) and Miami (No. 11) all earning top-16 seeds. The Wolverines went 13-4 against NCAA participants, squaring off against Northwestern (1-1) and Iowa (2-0) twice.

20 and Counting -- With a Big Ten Tournament semifinal win over Iowa (May 1), the Wolverines set a new program best for wins in a season at 22. The previous best was 21 wins during the 1997 season when U-M went 21-5 and advanced to the NCAA Team Championships.

Michigan's 24 wins also mark the third time that the 20-win plateau has been reached (1990, 1997). It is the fourth time head coach Ronni Bernstein has led her team to 20 wins and the first time at U-M. She led Florida International to 20-win seasons in 2000, 2001 and 2006.

Individual 20 -- Five Wolverines have won at least 20 matches this season, led by Denise Muresan's 33-12 overall record. Next is Michelle Sulahian with 32 wins, Mimi Nguyen with 28, Whitney Taney with 26 and Tania Mahtani with 24. With one more win, Rika Tatsuno will join the 20-win club, giving all six Michigan regulars 20 wins. On the doubles front, the No. 1 pair of Taney and Tatsuno is 24-2 in dual matches, while Nguyen and Sulahian are 23-6 in dual competition. Muresan and Sulahian are the first U-M teammates to both reach 30 wins in a single season.

Big Ten Champions -- For the first time since 1997, the Wolverines went 10-0 in the conference en route to winning the Big Ten championship. Michigan, owners of two Big Ten championships, is only one of four Big Ten schools that have won a title (Northwestern, Indiana and Wisconsin). Prior to this year, Northwestern and Indiana had combined to win all but two of the 28 titles. With a 6-1 win over Indiana on April 25 to earn the outright championship, U-M ended Northwestern's 11-year reign as conference champions.

Sweeping Awards -- For the first time ever, the Wolverines swept all three individual awards given out by the Big Ten Conference. Denise Muresan was named the Player of the Year, Mimi Nguyen was selected as Freshman of the Year and Ronni Bernstein was picked as the Coach of the Year. In addition, Muresan, Nguyen and Whitney Taney were all named All-Big Ten. [ Big Ten Honors ]

Perfect 10-0 -- In addition to the team's 10-0 conference record, Mimi Nguyen and the doubles pair of Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno went undefeated throughout the conference season. Nguyen played at the No. 3 and 4 singles position throughout the conference slate, winning all 10 Big Ten matches to join Denise Muresan in 2008 as the only current Wolverines to have had a perfect Big Ten record. Taney and Tatsuno went 10-0 at the No. 1 doubles position as Michigan won all 10 doubles points during the conference season.

Nguyen Picks Up Final Big Ten Athlete of the Week -- Mimi Nguyen won Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week honors on April 27 after helping Michigan win its second-ever Big Ten Championship. She is the fourth Wolverine to earn the distinction this season, joining Michelle Sulahian (Feb. 2), Whitney Taney (March 2) and Denise Muresan (April 6) as honorees. U-M led the conference with four weekly selections throughout the season.

NCAA Championships Dual Match Format -- Each dual match throughout the 2010 NCAA Championships 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 abandoned.

Michigan in the Rankings -- The Wolverines remained in the top five in the latest ITA rankings (May 3), staying at No. 4 for the fourth consecutive week. Denise Muresan is the only Wolverine ranked in singles, tabbed as No. 19. Juniors Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno come in at No. 19 as a doubles pair, moving up from No. 23 last week.

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. With the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Championships, it is the highest seed ever received and the first time U-M has hosted a regional.

Bernstein Against the Big Ten -- Since taking over in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2007, head coach Ronni Bernstein is 28-2 against Big Ten opposition.

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 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.

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.

Wed-Mon., May 26-31
-- at NCAA Individual Championships (Athens, Ga.)