Truth defeating falsehood was the theme of the day as Michigan shut out the Spartans. The doubles point was fiercely contested as both schools managed to win a game. King and Bernstein prevailed on 1 court for Michigan, winning 8-3. Freshman team Petrone and Zhu struggled early on and lost their doubles match on 3 court, 6-8. Among other problems both Wolverines struggled to land their first serves and had trouble finding traction in long volleys. The third doubles match was won by Michigan in the tiebreaker. Buzzi and Franks both made fine plays for Michigan at the net and behind the baseline. MSU's players struggled at times to hit the ball over the net and to get second serves in the box, a trend that continued in singles play.
No. 10 ranked Evan King made short work of MSU's tank at Court 1, prevailing 6-0, 6-2. Up 4-0 in the second, King had two break points against his opponent but yielded the point, settling for a non-6-0-6-0 score. Buzzi won the next match at 6 court, defeating his opponent 7-5, 6-3. Buzzi is looking very solid these days and has improved to 3-3 on 6 court this season. Zhu and Franks also won their matches in straight sets. The grittiness prize goes to Petrone from the match. Down 3-0 in the third set, the fabulous freshman rallied to win the final set 6-3. Bernstein has also made strides in his game recently. His serves, particularly in doubles, were much more testing than they have been in the past, and he got them in the first time more frequently as well.
The heavy rains the night before the match delayed the start of play for almost an hour as staffers with towels and leaf blowers were deployed to help dry out the courts. The match was Michigan's first home outdoor match of the season, the road series against Hawaii also having been heavily delayed by rainfall. Fortunately the Michigan women's team was scrimmaging on adjacent outdoor courts, preparing for their Sunday match against UNC. Michigan lost 4-3 in that matchup.
With Saturday's win Michigan men's tennis has now won its last nine matches against MSU, and boasts a 1-0 Big Ten record. At 8-4 Michigan needs five more wins to match its record from last year. Wins against Wake Forest and Hawaii to round out the nonconference season help take off some of the pressure, although Ohio is as formidable as ever.
Since Michigan's 5-2 win over LSU on February 4th, the Wolverines have endured two tough losses. The February 11 road trip to Seattle ended poorly for #28 Michigan, who dropped the doubles point and all but one singles match en route to a dismal 6-1 loss at the hands of #26 Washington. Designated 1 court #6 Evan King lost in straight sets to #15 Kyle McMorrow, 6-3, 7-6. Only Barrett Franks on 5 court held on to win his singles match over Max Manthou, 7-6, 6-7, 1-0. As an added bonus, we got an awesome picture of Barrett courtesy of MGoBlue.com.
Look into those eyes. No pity lurks there.
The worst kind of loss is a rivalry loss, and Michigan's 4-3 loss to #30 Notre Dame at the Varsity Tennis Center February 18th was truly heart-rending. The match came down to 3 court featuring freshman Alex Petrone of Michigan versus Sam Keeton of Notre Dame. The match ended 3-6, 6-5, 7-6 in favor of Mr. Keeton, who dominated the third-set tiebreaker with five straight points en route to the win.
However, some positives came from the match as well. Michigan doubles again dominated, winning all three of their matches. Alex Buzzi had a nice win on 6 court, winning 7-5, 7-5. Evan King dropped the first set but ended strong, winning 1-6, 6-3, 7-5. It is unfortunate that Petrone did not come through in the clutch for Michigan, but he is only a freshman. Petrone and Zhu have nowhere to go but up, and the whole team is still young. Thank goodness we have another year with Evan King! He's so fun to watch play. In fact MGoBlue has some fairly detailed video coverage of the M-ND match available for free, if you are interested.