March 19, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The Michigan State women's tennis team continues Big Ten conference play this weekend with a pair of matches. The Spartans (12-3, 0-1 Big Ten) will host Penn State on Friday at 2 p.m. inside the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility and admission is free. After Friday's match, MSU will take to the road and travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 51 Ohio State on Sunday at 12 p.m. inside the Varsity Tennis Center.
MSU opened up conference play March 16 with a loss to Michigan. The then-No. 13 Wolverines won by a final of 6-1. The lone point for the Spartans came on the fifth court from senior Olga Chernova, who won her match in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. MSU also had opportunities on the second and third doubles court but MSU fell short on the third court, 8-5, and the match on court two went unfinished as Michigan had already won the doubles point with an 8-1 win on court one.
"Michigan is a team that everybody in the Big Ten is going to be gunning for," head coach Simone Jardim said. "We were ready to compete with them. We were ready to give everything and ready to put ourselves in a position to win. Looking at us, it's what we are capable of, and we can compete with a team like Michigan who has beaten many ranked teams and teams at the top."
Jardim noted her team has been getting back at it in practice this week and is ready for another Big Ten weekend.
"The team is in a good place right now," she said. "We are confident we can win right now. We are taking one match at a time and making sure we are prepared and ready but the team is ready to step up and take some wins."
Chernova Leading in Singles
Senior Olga Chernova currently leads the team in singles wins this dual season with 13. Chernova is 13-2 in dual play, including 5-0 on court four and 6-1 on court five. Chernova is also on a seven-match winning streak and has won her last nine of 10. Chernova's seven-match winning streak is the fourth longest current streak in the Big Ten. All of her wins during that streak have come in straight sets. In fact, 12 of her 13 wins this season have come in straight sets.
After starting the season playing two matches on court three and one match on court two, Chernova was moved to the fourth court on Jan. 31 against Cleveland State. Since the move, she is 11-1. During her four seasons in Green and White, Chernova has seen court time on five of the six courts. Her freshman year she split between the third and fourth courts, her sophomore season she played primarily on the top court, and her junior year she split between the second and third courts.
Chernova's 13 dual wins are the most she's had in her career.
"She's a senior and she's played at a very high level," Jardim said. "She's played everywhere in the lineup here. She's used to playing at a high level and considering that she has had wins up higher in the lineup, she feels like she can play anywhere and win."
About Penn State
The Nittany Lions enter Friday afternoon's match with a 4-9 overall record and an 0-1 mark in conference play. Penn State won its first three matches of the season, but is just 1-9 since Jan. 25. Penn State started the spring season ranked No. 49 in the ITA poll but has gradually slid to unranked. Chris Cagle is serving as the interim head coach this season.
In singles, Penn State has a few different options it may use on the top court. Freshman Katia Blik has played nine of the 13 matches on court one and has compiled a 2-7 record on that court. However, she has played her last two matches on court two, winning both of those matches. Freshman Dasha Sapogova has played on courts one, two and three this season, including the last two on court one. Sapogova has a 10-3 overall record, including 1-1 on court one, 3-1 on court two, and 6-1 on court three.
As a team in singles, Penn State is just 33-45 (.423). Court three leads the team in wins with nine.
In doubles, four different tandems have seen playing time on court one. Sapagova and senior Marie Bedard have competed on court one in the last six matches, going 1-3 with two unfinished matches in that span. Overall for the season, Bedard and Sapagova are 4-5 in doubles. As a team, Penn State is 11-19 (.367) in doubles.
In the teams' last meeting, April 21, 2013, No. 43 Nittany Lions outlasted the Spartans by a final of 4-3, in State College, Pa. Juniors Catherine Parenteau and Julianne Gruber, and sophomore Emily Meyers contributed to the Spartans' three points as they each won their singles match.
In the last meeting in East Lansing, April 22, 2012, No. 50 Nittany Lions edged out MSU, 4-3. Seniors Marina Bohrer and Katarina Lingl are among the current Spartans who contributed to MSU's three points in the loss.
MSU and Penn State have played tight matches in recent years, with five of the last six meetings ending in a 4-3 win for Penn State.
About Ohio State
The No. 51 Buckeyes will enter Sunday's match with a 10-4 record. Ohio State will also host Michigan on Friday afternoon. Ohio State is 1-0 in Big Ten play after shutting out Penn State on Feb. 25. Melissa Schaub is in her second season as head coach.
Ohio State began the spring season initially ranked No. 72, but has moved up 21 spots since then. The Buckeyes are 2-4 against ranked opponents, including wins over then-No. 27 Tennessee and then-No. 75 Princeton.
In singles, two players could see the start on court one. Freshman Miho Kowase is 3-0 on court one, and played the team's last match on March 14 on the top court. Kowase is also 7-2 on court two. Freshman Gabriella De Santis has played 11 of the 14 matches on the top court, going 4-5 with two unfinished matches in that span. As a team, Ohio State is 59-18 (.766) in singles play. The Buckeyes are just 7-5 combined on court one, but have double digit wins on each of the rest of the six courts.
In doubles, four different tandems have contributed to the team's 7-4 record on the top court. Senior Noelle Malley and sophomore Grainne O'Neill have played the most matches on the top court, 6, and are an even 3-3 in those matches. As a team, Ohio State is 24-10 (.706) in doubles, with seven wins apiece on courts one and two and 10 on court three.
In the teams' last meeting, April 19, 2013, MSU upset then-No. 62 Ohio State on senior day in East Lansing by a final of 5-2. Bohrer, Parenteau, Meyers, and Gruber are among the current Spartans who contributed four singles wins after MSU won the doubles point.
In the last meeting in Columbus, then-No. 62 Ohio State defeated MSU, 6-1. Bohrer picked up the lone point for the Spartans that day.
Bohrer Sets New Record
Heading into the team's spring break matches on March 5 and 7, senior co-captain Marina Bohrer was tied atop the school's all-time career singles wins with 64. With her 6-0, 6-2, win over Ashley Ta of Niagara on March 5, Bohrer was able to establish herself as the new No. 1 on the career singles wins list. Bohrer went on to defeat Mercer on March 7, 6-1, 6-2, for her 66th career win. Christine Bader and Jessica Baron are tied for second on the wins list, coming in at 64 wins. All-time for her career, Bohrer is 66-40 (.623) in singles. She posted a 22-15 mark her freshman season, 12-7 her sophomore year, 18-13 last year, and is currently 14-5 overall this season, including 12-2 in spring dual play.
"I am happy that I made history at MSU," Bohrer said on March 7. "My goal has always been to do everything in my power to help the team win. If along the way it meant that I broke a record it is just an extra accomplishment. At the end of the day, what really matters to me is being able to contribute to the team's overall success."
Jardim notes Bohrer has had a winning mentality during her time in Green and White.
"Marina is definitely a competitor from the moment she got here, and she likes to win," Jardim said on March 13. "It doesn't matter how she plays, she wants to win really badly. She's willing to play ugly if she has to. You want a competitor, someone who can compete every time and that's why she's so successful because she gets the job done."
Meyers One of the Best Through Two Years
Sophomore Emily Meyers has been a valuable contributor to the program since coming to campus in the fall of 2012. In fact, with a current overall singles record of 33-22 (.600), Meyers ranks fifth all-time in school history on most career wins through two seasons. With her two wins over spring break on March 5 and 7, she passed Stephanie Kebler, who posted 31 wins between 2006-07. Alicia Leone is in first with a 42-10 mark through two seasons, Sarah Andrews is second at 41-33, Monty Gettys and Christine Bader are tied for third with 37 wins apiece, and Bohrer is fourth at 34-22.
Three freshmen have played a critical role in the Spartans' early season success thus far on both the singles and doubles courts. Athena Trouillot has spent time on courts five and six of singles and on mostly court three in doubles. In fact, she has paired with fellow newcomer Anna Zelechonok on court three of doubles, and the duo is 2-4 this season.
Trouillot's current overall singles record of 18-5 is tied for fourth in school history for most wins by a first-year player. Emily Meyers posted 18 wins last season.
Erin Faulkner has held down the No. 2 singles court for almost every match this season. Faulkner is 13-7 overall for the season, including a 9-3 mark on court two of spring dual play matches. Faulkner's 13 wins are nearing the eighth spot on the school's all-time wins list for a first-year player. The eighth spot has 14 wins.
Combined for the dual spring season, MSU has a 68-22 record in singles. Faulkner, who is 9-4, and Trouillot, who is 11-3, have accounted for 20 of those wins, which makes up 29%.
After Sunday's match at Ohio State, MSU will stay on the road next weekend as it travels to Nebraska on March 28 and No. 65 Iowa on March 30.