April 2, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Coming off back-to-back Big Ten road wins last weekend, the Michigan State women's tennis team returns home this weekend for a pair of ranked conference matches. The Spartans (15-4, 3-2 Big Ten) are set to face No. 34 Illinois on Saturday at 12 p.m., and No. 11 Northwestern on Sunday at 11 a.m. Both matches are set to be held at the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility but could be moved to the MSU Outdoor Tennis Courts if the weather reaches at least 50 degrees. Admission is free.
MSU won back-to-back road matches last weekend, defeating Nebraska, 4-3, on March 28 and Iowa, 4-3, on March 30. The Spartans claimed back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time in six years, when they defeated No. 57 Minnesota, 4-3, and No. 46 Iowa, 4-3, on April 5-6, 2008. With the wins, MSU was also able to earn back-to-back Big Ten road victories for the first time since 2006, when it defeated Minnesota, 4-3, on April 2, 2006, and No. 73 Ohio State, 4-3, on April 16, 2006.
MSU also reached 15 wins over the weekend, which is the most since 1990-91 when MSU won a school-record 18. MSU's 15 wins are tied for third-most in school history. MSU recorded 15 wins in 1986-87 and 16 wins in 1987-88.
Opening last weekend against Nebraska, MSU won the doubles point behind senior Marina Bohrer and freshman Erin Faulkner winning on court one, 8-5, and junior Catherine Parenteau and freshman Athena Trouillot winning on court three, 8-4. In singles play, the Spartans and Cornhuskers were tied at 3-3 in the match after the Spartans earned wins from Bohrer on court one and Parenteau on court three but dropped matches on courts two, four, and five. The match came down to the outcome of freshman Athena Trouillot and Hannah Sulz on court six. After splitting the first two sets, Trouillot was on the brink of dropping the decisive third set as she trallied 5-3. Trouillot battled back and forced a tiebreak at 6-all. In the breaker, Trouillot came out strong and won 7-3.
Nebraska is currently unranked but began the season ranked No. 25.
On Sunday at Iowa, MSU struggled initially to adjust to the outdoor elements and dropped the doubles point. The Spartans were able to bounce back compellingly in singles, as they grabbed the first five of six first sets. The five of six first sets led MSU on its way, as it ended up closing out four of those matches in straight sets. All four matches MSU won against Iowa all came in a row. MSU secured the match at 4-1 and then Iowa tacked on two more points to make it close. Faulkner, Parenteau, senior Olga Chernova, and Trouillot all won singles points for the Spartans on courts two, three, five and six, respectively.
"Going into singles, they came together as a team and (Tyler Faulkner) and I didn't have to say too much other than you have to make the adjustment," head coach Simone Jardim said about the Iowa match. "Once they went out there, they came together, they got it out of their system and won five of six first sets. That's the best way you can expect a team to respond. Once we got that going, that was our match to take. They really believe they can beat anyone and we showed signs of good team leadership. The leadership came from the players themselves, they figured it out. I'm proud of the way they reacted."
With two ranked matches on tap for MSU this weekend, Jardim is helping to keep her team focused on playing their own game.
"We are playing the opponent but not playing the shirt," Jardim said. "We have to play our game no matter who we're playing against. Tactics can be different, but we can deal with that. We're going to have to come up with the wins and play our game."
Notes from Nebraska-Iowa
- MSU won the doubles point against Nebraska for the 14th time this season. MSU is 13-1 (.929) when staking an initial 1-0 lead.
- MSU did not win the doubles point against Iowa, marking only the fifth time in 19 matches MSU has trailed 1-0 after doubles play. The Spartans improved to 2-3 on the season when dropping the doubles point.
- Two Spartans are now tied for the team lead in singles with 15. Senior Olga Chernova finished the weekend 1-1 in singles and is 15-4 this spring, including a 3-2 Big Ten mark. Freshman Athena Trouillot tallied a 2-0 singles mark over the weekend and is 15-3 this spring, including 4-1 in conference play.
- All six singles starters have recorded at least 10 wins or more this spring season. Junior Catherine Parenteau reached the double-digit plateau with her 6-4, 6-4 win over Iowa.
- MSU improved its road record to 3-2.
Coming up Clutch
Nineteen matches deep into the season and MSU has proved it has the ability to come up with the clutch shots and play when needed. As a team for the season, MSU is 17-10 (.630) in three-set matches and is 21-17 (.553) in tiebreakers. Especially in conference play, the Spartans has been able to swing game-changing matches into their favor.
Against Penn State on March 21, MSU split its doubles matches on courts one and three, meaning it would be up to sophomore Emily Meyers and junior Julianne Gruber on court two to pull out the doubles point. Meyers and Gruber went back and forth with Penn State and eventually the match was sent to a tiebreak. Meyers and Gruber grabbed a quick 3-0 lead in the breaker and were able to sustain the lead, close out the match 8-7(5), and clinch the doubles point for MSU. MSU used the momentum from its doubles point to go on and sweep all six singles matches.
Against Nebraska on March 28, the Spartans and Cornhuskers were deadlocked at 3-3 and it was up to Trouillot on court six to win the match for MSU. Coming back from a 5-3 deficit in the third set, Trouillot was able to prevail in a third-set tiebreaker 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(3), and give MSU the win.
"A lot of it is making sure you put yourself in the best position possible to win," Jardim said. "We are playing aggressive and playing smart. They put themselves on the line and they believe they can do it. Belief goes a long way."
Wins from Six Spots
Coach Jardim is quick to point out one of the biggest reasons why this year's Spartan squad has been so successful is due in part to being able to win at any of the six singles positions. MSU has relied on each of the six courts at different times this season, and all six courts have delivered. In fact, all six singles starters: Bohrer, Faulkner, Parenteau, Meyers, Chernova, and Trouillot, all have at least 10 wins this spring. Chernova and Trouillot are tied for the team lead, with both tallying 15 wins. Bohrer has 14, Faulkner has 12, and Meyers and Parenteau both have 10 wins apiece. Overall, as a team, MSU is 83-31 (.728) in singles play, including a 16-14 (.533) mark in Big Ten action.
"We are getting wins from everywhere, and that is priceless," Jardim said. "We can count on anybody."
Big Ten Update
With their 3-2 conference record, the Spartans are currently tied for fourth in the conference with Illinois and Purdue. Michigan and Northwestern are tied atop the Big Ten at 5-0 apiece. Seven of the 12 teams are ranked, with Northwestern being the highest ranked at No. 11.
The Fighting Illini are ranked 34th nationally and own a 10-6 overall record and a 3-2 conference mark. Illinois is riding a four-match winning streak and has won its last three Big Ten matches in a row, with home wins over Indiana, Penn State and Ohio State. Illinois is just 0-4 in away matches. Head coach Michelle Dasso is in her eighth season.
In singles, Illinois is 57-35 (.620) overall and 15-15 (.500) in conference play. Melissa Kopinski and Allison Falkin have both seen extended time on court one. Kopinski has tallied a 3-3 mark, while Falkin is 3-5 on court one. Falkin has played the last eight matches on court one and is likely to start there against MSU. Illinois does not have any nationally ranked singles players.
In doubles, Illinois is 23-20 (.535) overall and just 6-9 (.400) in Big Ten action. Kopinski and Alexis Casati are 7-6 on court one. Illinois does not have any doubles tandems nationally ranked.
Illinois is 8-0 when winning the doubles point this season and 1-6 when losing the doubles point. There is no doubles record for Illinois' match against Oklahoma State.
In the teams' last meeting, April 25, 2013, No. 43 Illinois defeated MSU, 4-1, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament held in Bloomington, Ind.
The Wildcats are likely to be the highest-ranked opponent MSU will face all season as the Wildcats come to East Lansing ranked No. 11 in the nation. Northwestern is 11-5 overall and a perfect 5-0 in conference play. The Wildcats will face No. 17 Michigan on Saturday before facing the Spartans on Sunday. Northwestern has won six of its last eight matches overall. Claire Pollard is in her 16th season as head coach.
In singles, Northwestern has two players nationally ranked. Belinda Niu comes in at No. 36 and Veronica Corning is No. 44. Corning has played every match at No. 1 for Northwestern, tallying a 9-7 mark overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten. Niu is 11-2 on court two and 5-0 in the Big Ten. Overall, Northwestern is 55-31 (.640) in singles and 26-4 (.867) in conference action. In doubles, Northwestern features two tandems nationally ranked. Corning and Alicia Barnett are ranked No. 21 and Maddie Lipp and Nida Hamilton are No. 72. Barnett and Corning are 8-5 on court one, while Lipp and Hamilton are 6-5 on court two. Northwestern is 24-14 (.632) as a team overall in doubles and 10-2 (.833) in the Big Ten.
In the teams' last meeting, April 6, 2013, No. 7 Northwestern defeated MSU, 6-1, in Evanston, Ill.
Trouillot has spent time on courts five and six of singles and on mostly court three in doubles. Trouillot's current overall singles record stands at 22-5 and is 15-3 in the spring season dual matches including 4-1 in the Big Ten. Her 22 overall wins are tied for second all-time in school history for most wins through one season, tying Marina Bohrer with 22 (2010-11) and trailing Alicia Leone with 27 (1990-91).
Faulkner has held down the No. 2 singles court for almost every match this season and has played on the top doubles court in just about every match. She is 16-8 overall for the season, and 12-5 in spring season dual matches including 3-2 in conference play. Her 16 overall wins are tied for sixth all-time in school history for most wins through one season.
Combined for the dual spring season, MSU has a 83-31 (.728) record in singles. Faulkner, who is 12-5, and Trouillot, who is 15-3, have accounted for 27 of those wins, which makes up 33 percent of the team's total.
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 68-42 (.618) in singles. She posted a 22-15 mark her freshman season, 12-7 her sophomore year, 18-13 last year, and is currently 16-7 overall this season, including 14-4 in spring dual play.
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 34-25 (.576), Meyers ranks tied for fourth 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.
The Spartans will conclude their four-match home stand next weekend as they host Wisconsin on April 12 and No. 55 Minnesota on April 13.