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Men's tennis loses in first round of NCAA for second straight year

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Matthew Kipnis, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 11, 2014

Despite falling in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals two weeks ago, the Michigan men’s tennis team seemed as if it had finally found success and could make a run in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines were riding a five-game winning streak before the Big Ten Tournament loss and were led by junior Alex Petrone, who was recently named to the All-Big Ten team.

But Michigan’s roller-coaster season took one final dip.

The Wolverines’ chance of making a run was thwarted by Oklahoma State, 4-2, in the first round Saturday.

Michigan (6-5 Big Ten, 16-13 overall) continued their hot doubles play, winning the first point when juniors Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu clinched the doubles point. The Cowboys’ No. 1 doubles team defeated seniors Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks, 8-3, marking their sixth win over a ranked opponent this year.

Michigan’s Nos. 2 and 3 did not back down, though, winning the tightly contested doubles point with two 8-5 victories.

With the Wolverines up a point, Oklahoma State (1-4 Big 12, 22-7 overall) answered by taking the first set in singles at Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5.

After Oklahoma State tied the match with a straight-set win at No. 2 singles, Arjun Kadhe gave the Cowboys a 2-1 lead with a three-set victory over redshirt junior Justin Rossi at the No. 3 position. Rossi was one of Michigan’s most consistent singles players, winning 13 of his last 18 singles matches dating back to Feb. 2.

In his final match as a Wolverine, Buzzi continued his hot hand, winning his sixth consecutive match and team-best 19th singles match to tie the score, 2-2. Shortly thereafter, the Cowboys defeated Wong and senior Vlad Stefan in three-set victories to knock Michigan out of the tournament.

The Wolverines will graduate four seniors — Bernstein, Buzzi, Franks and Rossi — after having only graduated one senior last year. Through last weekend's matches, the five players combined to win 442 matches — 240 in singles, 202 in doubles.

The Wolverines seemed as if they could upset the Cowboys heading into the matchup, playing their best tennis at the end of the year. But they failed to move past the first round for the second year in a row. The Wolverines had successfully advanced to the second round in five consecutive seasons, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2008, before the past two tournaments.