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‘M’ tennis opens season by blanking Western Michigan, 7-0

Terra Molengraff/Daily
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BY MATT RUDNITSKY
Daily Sports Writer
Published January 16, 2011

Western Michigan isn't exactly a powerhouse in college athletics, and tennis is no exception.

The No. 25 Michigan men’s tennis team defeated the Broncos 7-0 on Sunday, marking its eighth-straight win against its westerly neighbors. Michigan now leads the all-time series 52-8. And it was also the Wolverines’ eighth-straight win in their season-opener.

But despite the lopsided score, the Broncos didn’t lay down to the Wolverines — especially in doubles play.

“It was a good effort; this is a good Western Michigan team,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said after the match. “They’re always competitive and well-coached.”

The No. 28 tandem of Michigan senior captain Jason Jung and sophomore Evan King won a fairly routine match, 8-4, at No. 1 doubles. However, in the fight for the doubles point, the other two matches went down to the wire.

The Wolverines' pair of freshman Shaun Bernstein and sophomore Chris Cha eventually won out at No. 2 doubles, 8-6, but it took a late break to fend off the Broncos duo of senior Kazuya Komada and junior Zeyad Montasser. The win gave Michigan the doubles point and an early 1-0 lead.

But Western Michigan won at No. 3 doubles, where Michigan’s freshman duo of Barrett Franks and Justin Rossi fell, 8-6, after a late break of serve. The win left the Broncos without a point, though, as only one point is awarded for the winner of the best-of-three doubles matches.

“Doubles took a lot out of us,” Bernstein said. “(Western Michigan) came out with a lot of energy. We knew they’d be tough and we were lucky to get through. Both matches were very close. If we had gotten a little tight at the end, we could have easily lost the point."

Then in singles play, Michigan got three straight victories to clinch the match and move the score to 4-0. King won at No. 1, Franks won at No. 6 and Bernstein won at No. 5 all in straight sets.

Despite the match being decided at that point, Western Michigan challenged Michigan in the rest of the singles matches, taking two matches into decisive third sets.

Jung was pushed to a second-set tiebreaker before eventually prevailing, 6-2, 7-6 (3), and the Broncos split sets with the Wolverines in the two remaining matches. But since the match was already decided, the third sets were each reduced to a 10-point super tiebreaker.

Cha had an impressive 15-13 win in his super tiebreaker, and Rossi, playing in his first dual-match as a Wolverine, won 3-6, 7-6 (2), 10-3 in an impressive come-from-behind victory.

“Justin’s opponent was playing very well against him early,” Berque said. “He got down two breaks and made some really good strategic adjustments and fought extremely hard. I think that’s what he’s going to be known for; he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch in his four years because he’s so passionate about what he does and works so hard.”

Michigan (1-0) will continue its dual-match season with a home match against No. 5 Texas next week. The Wolverines faced a few Longhorns in last week’s Key Biscayne Invitational, but struggled, losing every match.

“I’m just pumped up for Texas next week now that we won this match,” King said. “But the good thing about already playing them is that now we’re familiar with all of their guys. We’ll know what to expect, what their tendencies are, what they like to do in certain situations. But, I mean, they won all of the matches against us.

"Granted, they were very close, but we lost all of them. But the whole team is going to be pumped up, so hopefully we get a pretty good crowd and get some quality wins to help our program.”