BY ALEX STEINHOFF
For The Daily
Published January 9, 2011
The Michigan men’s tennis team was in Key Biscayne, Florida to compete in the Key Biscayne Individuals.
The Wolverines faced the University of Denver, Louisiana State University and No. 5 University of Texas in both singles and doubles this weekend. It was an opportunity at the same event last year that Michigan was denied after one day of the tournament was postponed due to weather.
No. 25 Michigan hit the court on Friday against Denver in singles and LSU in doubles. Michigan took five of eight matches in singles, fueled by victories from the freshmen trio of Shaun Bernstein, Barrett Franks, and Justin Rossi.
"All the freshmen are slowly getting better," Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. "They played well this weekend and got a taste of the good competition they will play all season."
Sophomores Chris Cha and Evan King also landed victories against Denver, winning 6-4, 6-1, and 6-1, 6-0, respectively. Senior Jason Jung did not have the same fortune, however. Despite winning a first set that lasted 105 minutes in a tiebreaker 7-6 (14-12), he lost the second set and retired from the match in the third set to higher seeded Enej Bonin of Denver.
Jung also lost his singles match in day two against Texas, as did the other seven Wolverines. For Jung and the rest of the team, their singles play on Saturday didn't reflect their performance in doubles play, as Michigan took a 2-2 split against Denver. The 2-2 tie on Saturday came the day after Michigan took three of four doubles matches against LSU.
Jung was strong in doubles, winning his first matches with different partners. Jung and fellow senior Duncan Muil beat LSU 8-5 on Friday, and Evan King paired up with Jung on Saturday to win 8-1 against the Pioneers.
"Evan and Jason play really well together," Berque said. "They can emerge as our number one doubles team this season."
King and Jung aren't the only doubles team that Michigan can count on this season. Cha and Bernstein are another pair Michigan will rely on this season. This weekend, the pair won two of their first three matches in doubles.
"They played well all weekend," Berque said. "Shaun and Chris had a good chance to play against some tough competition and they did well. We will probably stick with them this season as a solid doubles team."
For Michigan, King's play in both doubles and singles contributed to the team's success over the weekend. Although King went 1-1 with Jung in doubles, they feel confident about playing together.
"We played some of our best tennis together at the end of last season," King said. "Last season and our play this weekend is something we can build on as partners."
Despite great doubles performances through Saturday, the Wolverines entered Sunday seeking to avenge their large singles defeat at the hands of the Longhorns.
Michigan was unable to win any doubles matches against Texas, but the Wolverines did win four of eight singles matches against the Tigers.
Although the tournament closed on a tough note on Sunday, the experience Michigan got from the weekend will be valuable moving forward.
"It was great to play outside for the first time this year," King said. "This is definitely something we can use to build confidence moving forward."
For the Wolverines, the dual match against Texas at home later in January will be an opportunity to prove to itself against the best in the country.