This weekend’s three-day tournament marked the beginning of the 2018 season for the No. 13 Michigan men’s tennis team. But it was clear that lineup changes were still in discussion after disappointing doubles losses to No. 11 Florida and California.
The Wolverines’ No. 1 and No. 2 doubles have consisted of seniors Alex Knight and Runhao Hua and junior Myles Schalet and sophomore Connor Johnston, respectively.
However, the No. 3 doubles is still unsettled with a few possible lineups. In previous matches during the preseason, freshmen Mattias Siimar and Kristofer Siimar filled the role. But this weekend’s tournament carried a different story.
“One of the great things about our team is that we have 11 guys that can play tennis at a high level,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg. “Especially early in the year, I like to try new combinations. I want them to get a chance to play in high pressure situations. You never know later on we’re going to need everybody.”
In the first day of the tournament against the Gators, the No. 3 duo of Gabe Tishman and Nick Beaty was dominated by Florida’s Johannes Inglidsen and Chase Perez-Blanco – losing 6-0 in the initial match.
Steinberg decided to change up the combination after the humiliating loss by reuniting the Siimar brothers.
The twins have been playing together since birth and were familiar with each other’s playing styles. The Siimar brothers helped contribute to Michigan’s doubles win against Harvard this past Saturday by posting a 7-5 victory.
Yet, despite the brothers’ strong showing, the coaching staff switched things up yet again with freshman Harrison Brown and senior Davis Crocker at No. 3 doubles, Sunday.
The pair was lacking in compatibility on the court. Though Brown and Crocker’s match was unfinished after losses from both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, the on-court experience and lack of chemistry between them was noted.
Before the end of the match, Brown and Crocker were one serve away from being defeated by California in the third set. The early finishes by the No. 1 and No. 2 courts simply saved the pair from an unfortunate defeat.
“It’s good even if they didn’t get to finish at third doubles,” Steinberg said. “It’s important for someone like Davis and Harry to get out there.”
It is evident Michigan still has some big decisions to make before the season is in full throttle.
“They all can play. If you come to our practice, sometimes you never know, No. 1 to No. 12, who is better than the next,” Steinberg said. “We got to get our doubles shored up for sure. We need to get three teams that we’re going have confidence on each court.”