By Jason Rubinstein, Daily Sports Writer
Published June 30, 2013
Losing the two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year is plenty hard enough for any program. But that’s not all the Michigan men’s tennis team lost this off-season.
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On May 24, Michigan’s men’s assistant tennis coach, Mark Merklein, left the program to take an equal position at the University of Florida. Merklein played a key part in leading the Wolverines to two straight NCAA tournament appearances and really clicked with the players.
However, Michigan has since hired a new associate head coach in Jeremy Wurtzman.
Wurtzman is leaving his current position as the University of Denver’s head women’s tennis coach. In his tenure at Denver, he tallied a 31-14 record and led the Pioneers to their first-ever NCAA tournament.
Prior to his stint at Denver, Wurtzman was an assistant coach at Ohio State University, where he also played college tennis. As a Buckeye, he became the top-ranked player in the country.
But would donning the Block ‘M’ be difficult for an Ohio State alumni?
“No. Definitely not. I am just excited to build on the tradition of Michigan tennis.”
Michigan head coach Bruce Berque was thrilled when Wurtzman accepted his position.
“To me, he’s the whole package of what I’m looking for,” Berque said. “Normally you have an idea of what you’re looking (for) in a coach, such as a coach who can recruit, one with playing experience or a coach who has been a head coach already. Jeremy has got it all. I don’t know him as well as Mark Merklein, but I know he will be great for the guys and a great example.”
A main factor in Berque’s decision was Wurtzman’s experience. The new coach reached a top-30 ranking of all American tennis players, and certainly understands the grind of the ATP tour.
“Playing professionally has helped me learn the feelings and the pressures of tennis,” Wurtzman said. “In practice, I know what the players need to do to push themselves and when they can let up a bit. I know what the players are going through.”
It’s clear the program has two great coaches, and despite the losses the Wolverines have endured, the program is trending forward.
Berque has been successful with all three of his assistants, and Wurtzman will be no different.
“He is going to take a lot of ownership with the program as opposed to someone who’s just going to be an assistant,” Berque said. “His reputation is spotless.”