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Zhu excels, men's tennis uses Tom Fallon Invitational as practice

By David Weinfeld, For the Daily
Published October 7, 2012

The Michigan men’s tennis team had an up-and-down weekend in the Tom Fallon Invitational in South Bend, Ind., excelling in singles competition over the first two days of the tournament before stumbling on Sunday.

Five of Michigan’s nine players competed in the tournament. In the singles portion, the Wolverines won nine of the 15 matches. They won two and lost four matches in the doubles competition.

The 21st-ranked Wolverines competed against Notre Dame, Alabama, Michigan State and Northern Illinois in their tournament, which was hosted by the Fighting Irish. Michigan sent juniors Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks and sophomores Alex Petrone, Michael Zhu and Vlad Stefan to South Bend with assistant coach Mark Merklein.

The Wolverines swept all five singles matches against the Spartans on Friday and took four of five matches from the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Sunday, the Wolverines ran into the Fighting Irish, which swept all five Michigan singles players.

Aside from their failures against Notre Dame, the Wolverines played relatively well on the weekend. Perhaps the biggest highlight was when Zhu upset 59th-ranked Daniil Proskura of Alabama on Saturday in three sets, 4-6, 7-5 and 1-0.

“I was pretty much losing, and I was down to match point,” Zhu said. “I stayed focused, didn’t give up and played every point the way it should have been played. I ended up coming back and winning the second-set tiebreaker.

“I love competing. I’m playing really well at the moment.”

Petrone also had an impressive weekend himself, dominating with straight-set victories over both Alabama and Michigan State. The sophmore played both the ITA All-American qualifier in Tulsa, Okla. and in the Tom Fallon Invitational in the span of a week.

“In Tulsa, it felt like I needed a few more matches to get my rhythm back and my timing back” Petrone said. “I came in with that mentality and looked to get my rhythm back. I focused on competing, and I did that so it was a successful trip.”

The Wolverines will look to get even more of their rhythm back over the next few weeks of practice. They next play Oct. 18 at the ITA Midwest Regionals in East Lansing.