The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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66 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017   OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE Junior Carter Lin returns to the team as last year's wins leader, with 23 singles wins overall and a 15-6 dual-match record. Two freshmen join the team this year, and while Nick Beaty will red- shirt his first year in Ann Arbor, Connor Johnston will have a good chance to contribute on the doubles side while he will also fight for a posi- tion in the singles lineup according to Steinberg. Johnston was named Mr. Tennis for the state of Michigan fol- lowing an undefeated senior season and a state singles title. Last year's season marked the first time U-M had gone undefeated at home since the program began play- ing at the Varsity Tennis Center, and the team is hoping that success will drive them to even better results this season. "They really saw what it can be like," Steinberg said. "That motiva- tion, we got close, I mean we were two games from getting to the Sweet Sixteen and these guys want that. They're motivated to get back there." The Wolverines are back in action Jan. 21 against Alabama in Orlando, Fla., before participating in the ITA Kick-Off Jan. 28-29 in Norman, Okla. — Leland Mitchinson WOMEN'S TENNIS CONFIDENT AFTER NCAA QUARTERFINALS APPEARANCE For the second year in a row, the No. 14 Michigan women's tennis team will have just one senior — Annie Wierda — on its roster. That doesn't mean that the Wolverines lack experience, however. "We've got a lot of returners," head coach Ronni Bernstein said. "Our pro- gram's never been about the senior runs the show. I feel like they all have ownership of the team and know what we're about. I think where we are right now is everybody is really excited." Michigan — which finished last season with a 23-7 record and reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time in history — will return juniors Alex Najarian and Mira Ruder-Hook, as well as sophomores Brienne Minor and Kate Fahey, all of whom have contributed to the starting lineup since stepping onto campus. Minor is the highest-ranked returner, finishing the last year as the country's No. 19 singles player. Minor was also a part of the No. 7 doubles paring in the country with Ruder-Hook. The Wolverines will have to work to replace the production of graduated senior Ronit Yurovsky, who finished the season with All-America honors and a No. 12 national ranking — the second highest in school history. She also finished her career third on the all-time list with 117 singles wins. Bernstein believes that both incom- ing freshmen, Valeria Patiuk and Chiara Lommer, will see the court and contribute throughout the sea- son, though it is not clear yet in what way they will be involved. Michigan will begin its quest to improve on last year with the Michigan Invita- tional Jan. 14-16, and then will host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Jan. 28-29. The team knows, though, that a long journey is ahead in order to reach its goals. "The goal is May," Bernstein said. "There's always going to be bumps. Hopefully you don't have too many bumps in the road as the season goes, but there's always some sort of ad- versity that you deal with, and it's how we handle it and how quickly we bounce back. It's a four-month kind of marathon." — Leland Mitchinson WATER POLO READY TO RELOAD AFTER NO. 4 FINISH Coming off a season in which it finished with the highest ranking in program history, the Michigan wa- ter polo team will look to reach even greater heights this year. After finish- ing with an undefeated regular-sea- son conference record and a ranking as the No. 4 team in the country, the Wolverines will need to have some players step into the void left by se- nior Ali Thomason if they want to replicate the success of last year 's memorable campaign. Thomason graduated third in pro- gram history in goals and steals, and fourth in points. Her leadership won't be gone entirely this season, however. Thomason is a volunteer assistant coach for this year's team and will be able to lend her experience to the play- ers this season. The loss of Thomason does not mean that Michigan is without tal- ent. The Wolverines have good depth this season and the incoming class of freshmen will be ready to contrib- ute right away. Rookie goalie Heidi Ritner is a highly touted recruit who is a part of the USA Youth National Team and will likely start this season. Maddy Steere is another freshman The men's tennis team did not graduate a single player off last year's roster, and red- shirt junior Alex Knight leads the returnees after being named second-team All-Big Ten. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS Sophomore Kim Johnson debuted last year by totaling 62 goals, which ranked second on the squad, and 23 assists for 85 total points. The latter two totals ranked third. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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