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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Memorable Saturday for Michigan Tennis

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Ann Arbor--

When we arrived at the Varsity Tennis Center Saturday evening the atmosphere was already upbeat. Although the 400-plus fans had yet to gather for the men's match with Texas, the buzz from the women's exciting 4-3 upset over twelfth-ranked Vanderbilt earlier in the day was still in the air. Amanda Augustus, the new head coach at Michigan, could hardly have asked for a more satisfying win in her debut. The mgoblue site has the details of the women's match here.

The Longhorns also arrived in Ann Arbor ranked twelfth, so the Wolverines, at No. 32, were definitely underdogs, but their 5-2 win was so decisive that it seemed as if the rankings were reversed.

The doubles point was closely contested and decided late, but Michigan won all three matches. The nation's second-ranked doubles team, Michigan's Brian Hung and Matko Maravic kept the maize-clad fans in suspense but ultimately capitalized when they needed to, taking a 9-7 win from Miguel Reyes Varela and Jon Wiegand of Texas and clinching the point. At No. 2 doubles, Ryan Heller and Andrew Mazlin got an early break and cruised past Bernhard Deussner and Josh Zavala 8-5 for the first Michigan win. And although they were down a break almost from the beginning, freshmen George Navas and Mike Sroczynski fought back to take the No. 3 match in a tiebreak 8-7(6).

The team that wins the doubles point can experience a letdown once singles play begins, but it certainly didn't happen to the Wolverines. They quickly took the first set at No. 6, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 5, and it was Mazlin at No. 5 that gave the Michigan a 2-0 lead, with his 6-4, 6-2 win over Jonah Kane-West.

I watched the No. 1 singles contest between Hung and Dimitar Kutrovsky, and although Hung had the advantage in experience--senior vs. freshman--it was very tight match. Kutrovsky, from Bulgaria, hits two-handed on both sides, mostly flat and hard. Hung didn't want to trade those type of strokes with the 19-year-old right-hander, so he hit slices and topspin and came to the net on occasion. Hung had the advantage in first serves, and in several tight spots he cracked aces to get himself back in the game. His 6-4, 6-3 win came just seconds before his doubles partner Maravic gave Michigan its fourth point with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Milan Mihailovic.

It was one of those dual match moments when you can't sit down, and many of the fans were moving from one side of the tennis center's second level to the other in an attempt to view the points that would decide both the matches and give Michigan an insurmountable lead. (Texas won at No. 4, with Varela beating Navas in straight sets, while the other two matches, at No. 3 and No. 6, were completed with 12-point tiebreaks in lieu of a third set.)

Bruce Berque, now in his third year as Wolverine head coach, was pleased with his team's performance, and credited the women's team for inspiring his players.

"We had a brief hit this morning, and stuck around for their win, and then they were here for us. They are so supportive. It's a good day for Michigan tennis."

Now 3-0, the Wolverines host Western Michigan and Harvard next weekend, and Berque knows the win over Texas gives them more than just a dual match victory.

"It's a good win over a strong team and a great program. It gives us a lot of confidence atarting the season."

For a complete recap, see mgoblue.com.

Michigan's win over Texas wasn't the only upset of the weekend in men's tennis. Boise State defeated Stanford 5-1 in Palo Alto on Saturday. The details are here.


Anonymous said...

Virginia also took down Illinois this weekend with a score of 5-2.