BY BRIAN MECHANICK
For the Daily
Published March 21, 2010
Coming off a manhandling by No. 5 Texas last weekend, the Michigan men’s tennis team came home looking to take out its frustration on an in-state rival.
In the team’s Big Ten opener, the Michigan men’s tennis team trounced Michigan State, winning by a score of 6-1. With top player junior Jason Jung sitting on the sidelines, sophomore Duncan Muil made his dual meet debut.
The 110th meeting of these storied rivals got off to an intense start in doubles, which was no surprise to Michigan coach Bruce Berque.
“It's always a little bit different, these big rivalries,” Berque said. “Like football or any other sport, Michigan State is right up there with Ohio State and Notre Dame as far as rivalries go. We knew we were going to get their best tonight.”
Since Jung was sitting out due to playing-time limits, Berque was forced to realign much of the team. All singles players moved up a spot, and the pairing of seniors George Navas and Mike Sroczynski moved into the No. 1 doubles spot.
Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 5-6 overall) fell behind early when the No. 3 pairing of freshman Chris Cha and Muil lost 8-4. Michigan’s No. 2 pairing freshman Evan King and junior Chris Madden were in a back-and-forth match until the tenth game, when the duo was finally able to break serve, going on to win 8-4.
With the first two doubles matches drawn, Michigan’s No. 1 pairing's match would decide who would take the first point. After falling behind early, the pair was able to rally back and take the match 8-6, giving the early point to the Wolverines.
“It definitely was tense,” Sroczynski said. “We had to move up from second doubles to first so that put on some added pressure. When we’re playing a big rival like Michigan State they want to beat us, so it was big to come through at the end.”
In only his second No. 1 singles match of the season, King won 6-1, 6-3.
"It doesn't matter if you play at No. 1, No. 2 or No. 6,” King said, “You are going to face the same type of player, same competition. You've got to be ready.”
After King, the matches ended in quick succession to clinch the Wolverine victory over the Spartans (0-1, 11-5). The captain Navas, playing No. 4 singles, won in straight sets. The clinching match came soon after in No. 2 singles as Sroczynski came from a first-set deficit to win in straight sets.
“I was just trying to fight through the first set,” Sroczynski said. “He had chances to win the first set 6-3, but I had some good shots and stayed solid enough that it could go my way.”
But the Wolverines didn’t let up, as No. 5 Cha came back after dropping the first set to win. Madden ended the day in style, as the lefty won in three sets. Only Muil came up on the losing side for the Wolverines, losing 7-5, 6-4, after re-aggravating an ankle injury early in the first set and not being able to overcome it.
The importance of starting of Big Ten Play with a victory was not lost on Berque.
“A goal for our team is to compete for the Big Ten Championship,” Berque said, “We have Minnesota right around the corner and then Iowa, both teams we lost to last year. We know every match in the Big Ten is going to be tough, but it’s really nice to get one."