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Wolverines advance to Sweet 16 round of NCAA Tournament

James Weaver/Daily
Senior Denise Muresan plays against South Florida earlier this year. Buy this photo

BY CARLY BODDY
For the Daily
Published May 15, 2011

A confident crowd came out to watch the first two rounds of the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional this weekend.

And the Michigan faithful went away happy.

With a 4-0 win over Akron on Saturday and a 4-1 finish against Tulsa on Sunday, the eight members of the No. 10 Michigan women’s tennis team will head to Palo Alto, Calif. for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament.

Against the Zips at the Varsity Tennis Center, the Wolverines secured the doubles point with a win from seniors Rika Tatsuno and Whitney Taney and another victory from the senior-freshman duo of Denise Muresan and Brooke Bolender.

Bolender and Muresan will also be competing in California as a doubles team. With four seniors saying their goodbyes to the Michigan program, performing one final time will be bittersweet for the freshman-senior doubles team.

“I’m excited for California, but I really can’t believe this was my last home match,” said Muresan following Sunday’s win. “It has been an incredible four years with this program.”

Muresan is ranked eighth in the nation, and will also be competing individually this upcoming weekend.

She was joined by freshman Sam Critser and sophomore Mimi Nguyen in adding singles wins to their doubles point, sending the Wolverines to a convincing victory over Akron.

On Sunday, the Wolverines continued to face a talented Golden Hurricane squad in the second round of the Regional.

Against No. 22 Tulsa, Michigan won the doubles point for the second day in a row, with Taney and Muresan taking the first two singles points to give Michigan a 3-1 lead. Minutes later, they were joined by a victorious Critser to finish up with a win at home — and effectively punch their ticket to Palo Alto.

Following Crister's game-winning point, the team gathered around her to sing a round of 'The Victors' before walking off of the court of their last home match this season.

For seniors Muresan, Taney and Tatsuno, the 4-1 win over the Golden Hurricane marked their final performance in Ann Arbor.

"Tulsa was a great team and they had a great year," Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein said. "We felt good going in, but you’ve got to go out and play and compete every time. Today, we did that. I’m happy for the girls, and especially for the seniors.”

Michigan will head to take on No. 7 Miami in the Sweet 16 this Friday. The Wolverines faced the Hurricanes earlier this season in Coral Gables, Fla., where they were defeated 4-3.

“It definitely wasn’t our best tennis,” said Muresan of their first meeting with Miami.

The team will head out to California early this week to start preparing in hopes to advancing to the next round of competition the following Sunday.

That matchup, as well as the remainder of the tournament, will be held at Stanford in Palo Alto. Michigan traveled to the final site of the tournament last year, but was eliminated with a 4-0 loss to Tennessee.

“Last year we went and we were a little overwhelmed," Bernstein said. "We didn’t handle it that well, but now we know what it’s all about. We got a taste last year and that will be a big help when we head out there this week.”


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