Patrick Maloney knows how to finish off a match.
Up 5-2 and at set point at No. 3 doubles, the freshman was gifted a high, sluggish lob and he took advantage of it. With an emphatic overhead slam, he secured a 6-2 win and the first point of the match with in-state rival Michigan State (8-4 overall, 0-1 Big Ten).
Michigan (8-2, 1-0) came away with a 6-1 victory over the Spartans Wednesday night, starting off Big Ten play on the right foot. Sophomore Mattias Siimar came into the match with a five-game win streak at No. 1 singles, along with freshman Andrew Fenty at No. 2 singles and No. 3 singles.
The in-state rivalry between the two schools made things that much more interesting.
“It always brings a big crowd to make us feel at home,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg. “It carries over from other sports. It was a good way to start off the week. It was fun.”
Mattias Siimar and Fenty, playing together at No. 1 doubles, took an early lead against the Spartans, breaking them twice to go up 5-0. Michigan State won back a game, but once Fenty was on serve, he made sure to finish out the set. At set point, Fenty lasered a ball down the ‘T’ and hit the frame of his opponent’s racquet. The first doubles match went to the Wolverines, 6-1.
Michigan earned a win of similar fashion at No. 3 doubles after Maloney’s impressive overhead slam secured the victory. The score at No. 2 doubles was 4-3 Spartans, but play was suspended after the point was decided.
In singles play, Mattias Siimar and Fenty hoped to extend their five-game winning streaks at No. 1 singles and No. 2 singles, respectively.
Mattias Siimar and Fenty immediately both had success, breaking their respective opponents and earning a 3-1 lead in the first set. However, it was freshman Steven Forman who won the first set of the match, defeating his opponent 6-1. Forman was also the first to finish his match and earn the second point for the Wolverines, winning 6-1, 6-4.
Shortly after, at No. 5 singles, the Spartans were able to earn a point after Nick Williams defeated Kristofer Siimar 6-4, 6-0. That narrowed the score, making it 2-1, Michigan. It was all Wolverines after that, though.
Fenty, up 5-0 in the second set and with the first already won, was once again on serve. He won three consecutive points decisively, then on match point, Fenty stepped up to serve to his opponent. This time, instead of going up the middle, he served a ball wide and out of reach for an ace. Fenty extended his win streak to six, winning 6-3, 6-0.
Once again, Maloney was able to finish the match on his terms. With Michigan up 3-1, only one more Wolverine needed to win for the team to officially get the victory. He had won his first set 6-3 and was now up, 5-1. On set point, Maloney and his opponent rallied until he put the nail in the coffin with a forehand winner down the line to win the set, 6-3, 6-1, and win the match.
Mattias Siimar was also able to extend his winning streak to six, after he defeated his opponent, 6-3, 6-2.
“We’ve been playing great, we’ve made a great run,” Steinberg said. “Now we go outside so it’s a little bit different. The guys are doing great. It’s been a really rewarding season so far but there’s a lot to go and a lot to do.”