- Terra Molengraff/Daily
BY MATT RUDNITSKY
Daily Sports Writer
Published February 6, 2011
Trailing No. 21 Wake Forest 1-0 on Saturday night at the Varsity Tennis Center, the No. 23 Michigan men’s tennis team had reason to worry.
The Wolverines had lost the doubles point in three straight matches, which eventually cost them the dual match twice. Last year, Michigan was 12-4 when it won the point and 2-7 when it didn’t.
But the Wolverines (3-2) dug themselves out of the early hole, taking all six singles matches to record a lopsided 6-1 victory.
“You always want to win the doubles point," Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “But we know it’s just one point out of seven. So, yeah, I was concerned, but I was comfortable, looking at the matchups, that we could win four out of six singles (matches). Against a top-25 team, to be down 1-0, that’s a lot of pressure, but our guys handled it well.”
In doubles play, Wake Forest (1-2) won two of the three matches to take the point. The lone Wolverine win went to the top tandem of senior captain Jason Jung and sophomore Evan King — the No. 28 pair in the nation.
"I thought (the team) played better (in doubles), but we've definitely still got some spots where we can improve,” Jung said. “We don't want to have to battle back in every match for that point. I think lack of experience is part of it, and maybe skills not being where they should be right now, but we're going to work to improve that."
But after the disappointing results in doubles, Michigan wasted no time leveling the score. No. 35 Jung won a cakewalk at No. 2 singles, dropping just one game in the match.
Freshman Barrett Franks followed with a straight set win at No. 5, and fellow diaper dandy Justin Rossi fought at No. 4 to win a three-setter and give Michigan a 3-1 lead.
At No. 2 singles, King struggled early on against No. 45 Jonathan Wolff, whose impressive pace was disrupting King's rhythm. Wolff jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, and the match looked like a rout.
But King shrugged off the early deficit, winning 14 of the next 15 games to take the match.
The 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory clinched the match for the Wolverines.
With the outcome already decided, sophomore Chris Cha won a tough three-setter at No. 6 and freshman Shaun Bernstein did the same — in a tiebreaker — in his first career match at No. 3.
Berque shifted the lineup against the Demon Deacons, putting the 18-year old Bernstein at No. 3 against the No. 100 player in the country in just his fifth career dual match.
“Shaun’s match was pretty high-quality,” Berque said. “He lost the decider the last time we played here against Texas and then last week he played well against Duke and extremely well against Virginia Tech. So, based on that, we moved him up to No. 3 (singles).
“And as a freshman, to play No. 3 against the No. 21 team in the country is not easy. I think he got his first win over a ranked opponent today. His level of play is good and he’s really improving in singles and doubles.”
The win was Berque’s 99th of his career, and he’ll go for No. 100 when Michigan takes on No. 25 Washington on Friday. The Wolverines also face No. 43 Vanderbilt on Saturday.
“Well, I guess it means I’m not quite Joe Paterno yet,” Berque said. “But any win we get this year, with our schedule, is definitely a good one. The differences between even 20 spots apart in the rankings is really small, so Washington is going to be good, and Vanderbilt is going to be good. Every match we’ve had with (Vanderbilt) has been an absolute war. We’ll be ready for a battle.”