The Michigan men’s tennis team did its due diligence on the West Coast this past weekend, starting the season 2-0 with wins at Washington and Boise State. Entering the spring season ranked No. 17, the Wolverines survived an immediate scare in Seattle on Saturday before sweeping Boise State, 7-0, on Monday.
Initially, it seemed as if Michigan started the season off on the wrong foot, losing the doubles point to Washington.
“We have to get better at doubles. We have to find a lineup that’ll work, and also execute and play better,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg.
However, the nation’s No. 9 singles player, senior Alex Knight, began a rally for the Wolverines singles squad with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Mitch Stewart.
“It’s really important, especially after you lose the doubles point, to get one of the six guys off the court quick with a decisive win,” Knight said. “It really gives your teammates a little bit of confidence. We’re no longer losing in this match, we’re still in this. We’re fighting.”
Soon after, freshman Mattias Siimar earned a tough 6-3, 6-3 win at the No. 3 singles position, giving Michigan a 2-1 lead.
“I thought that was probably the most important match of the day,” Steinberg said. “We’ve seen him all fall and he is a really good player, but his first college match is different. It’s very hard to get used to and he did a great job. He beat a good player in straight sets and that gave the team a lot of confidence for sure. I haven’t asked all of them, but I know it meant a lot.”
To close out the match, junior Myles Schalet and senior Carter Lin squeezed out tight matches, winning 6-4, 6-4, and 6-4, 7-5, respectively, earning the Wolverines the decisive points of the match.
Two days later, Michigan dominated Boise State with relative ease, with no player giving up more than three games in a single set or five games in a full match.
“The guys really took care of business on every court. We were consistent all the way through,” Steinberg said. “We have a big weekend coming up, so it was good to get off the courts quicker for sure.”
A big weekend indeed, as the Wolverines will travel to North Carolina, ironically, to kick off the ITA Regionals against No. 20 South Carolina. With the season young, Michigan hopes to add an early, strong win to their resume.
But that doesn’t need to be told to this squad.
“It’s big (to have momentum),” Knight said. “We got a really tough opponent next week. They’re also top-20, so it’s really important that we got two wins this weekend.”
Though the season is just beginning, the Wolverines have aspirations for Big Ten and National championships, and every player, especially the seniors, knows that it all starts next weekend at the ITA Regionals. For now though, this weekend was a good first step toward that.