It was match point and junior Patrick Maloney and senior Nick Beaty looked to win the doubles point for Michigan. As Maloney served, firing the ball onto Indiana’s side of the court, the Hoosiers returned with equal force. With the match on the line, the two pairs traded blows in what became the longest rally of the match. While hustling across the court, Maloney fell to one knee just as the ball was approaching and made an acrobatic play to push the ball down the alley, winning the doubles point, and the match, for Michigan, 6-1.
Beaty and Maloney were firing on all cylinders during the match.
“We played well together,” Maloney said. “We are very close off the court, so we have good chemistry, which helps. The lefty-righty combo is always exciting to play, and we always try to come out with high energy and stay positive.”
The Michigan men’s tennis team (10-2 overall, 10-1 Big Ten) beat Indiana (5-7, 5-7), 4-0, at home on Saturday. The match began with three doubles matches, and from the first serve, the Wolverines made it clear they were not holding back. While playing against highly competitive doubles teams, Michigan continuously attacked the net, looking to finish points up front.
“We work a lot on attacking the net in practice,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “In our pre-match meeting, we spoke about the importance of execution. We have seen the stats showing the benefits of playing aggressive and finishing at the net. It is for sure a focus of our team. This is still a process for us, but we executed it well during the match against Indiana and are going to continue improving.”
Having set such a decisive tone to win the doubles play, the Wolverines needed to win three of six singles matches on the afternoon to come away with a win. Building on their momentum was the key to accomplish this according to junior Andrew Fenty, the team’s No. 2 singles player.
“The doubles teams did a great job generating momentum going into singles,” Fenty said. “I knew I just had to keep it going and do my best to put a point on the board for Michigan.”
Once again, the Wolverines came out swinging. Leading the charge for Michigan, Fenty relied on his powerful serve to press his opponent back to the baseline. He boasted two aces in the first set and delivered several accurate and powerful finishers.
After match wins from Fenty and freshman Jacob Bickersteth, Maloney came in clutch once again for the Wolverines, defeating Carson Haskins from Indiana 6-4, 6-4 to secure the victory for Michigan. Despite a well-played but challenging doubles match, Maloney did not show any signs of fatigue.
“When playing doubles, it is such a short set and is not as physically taxing as singles,” Maloney said. “It served as a good warmup to activate my body and hit the shots I needed in the singles match.”
Bickersteth also delivered an impressive performance in the No. 6 singles match, maintaining control throughout the match and forcing his opponent to rush to the net to return his low shots.
It proved a decisive win for Michigan. As the Wolverines head into a critical stretch of their schedule that has them facing key conference rivals in quick succession, such aggressive playmaking will serve them well going forward.