No. 8 Michigan rallies to top USC
Wolverines battle back after dropping first doubles point of year
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Sophomore Mimi Nguyen provided the deciding point at No. 4 singles as eighth-ranked Michigan defeated No. 18 Southern California 5-2 at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Wolverines' victory sends them to the ITA National Championship, to be held Feb. 18-21 in Charlottesville, Va..
With the Wolverines clinging to a 3-2 lead, both Nguyen and freshman Sam Critser were still on the courts. Nguyen was the first one to finish, clinching the match with a three-set 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 win at No. 4 singles, giving Michigan its fourth team point of the afternoon. The sophomore shook off an early break in the final set, breaking Kaitlyn Christian to go on top 6-5 with an the opportunity to serve out the match. Nguyen allowed just one point in the final game, sending Michigan to its second consecutive ITA Indoor Championship. Critser also came out victorious after the team outcome was decided, rallying for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win against No. 10 Danielle Lao.
The Wolverines regrouped after the intermission and failing to secure the doubles point, grabbing straight-set singles wins at No. 3 and No. 6 to pull ahead 2-1. Bolender easily dispatched Alison Ramos at No. 3 by 6-1, 6-1, followed by senior Rika Tatsuno pulling out a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 6.
Senior Denise Muresan then fell at the No. 1 slot as the Trojans evened the team score at 2-2. Senior captain Whitney Taney won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5 moments after Muresan fell to stake the home team a 3-2 lead and set Nguyen up for the deciding point.
Michigan dropped the doubles point for the first time this season, only pulling out an 8-3 win at No. 2 when Muresan and freshman Brooke Bolender combined for the victory. After USC grabbed an 8-4 win at No. 1, the No. 3 match became the decider.
U-M's No. 3 duo of Critser and Nguyen held a 7-4 lead with the opportunity to serve out the match, but USC rallied and won four of the next five games to force a tiebreaker. The Wolverines had two match points in the tiebreaker, but the Trojans rallied again to win the breaker 8-6 and the doubles point.