Alex Knight was a comeback kid this Sunday at the Boone Indoor Tennis Center, where Michigan faced Kentucky.
After dropping the first doubles match of the day, 6-2, alongside freshman Myles Schalet, the redshirt sophomore entered his single match ready for revenge.
Down in the first set, Knight eventually brought it to a tiebreaker, pulling out a 9-7 win. Taking advantage of this momentum, he wrapped up the second set with a 6-4 victory to take the match.
Knight’s matchup against Trey Yates was the seventh match of the day for Michigan and acted as the turning point for the Wolverines, leading to their three-match winning streak.
The streak, though, only brought the Wolverines within one, resulting in a 4-3 loss in their first dual-match play of the 2016 season.
Michigan junior Kevin Wong added to the streak, coming out on top against Kentucky's Charles Minc in two consecutive 7-6 tiebreakers.
“(Kevin) played really aggressively today,” said Michigan men’s tennis coach Adam Steinberg. “I really liked the way he struck the ball.”
The third and final point for the Wolverines came from Schalet in his first official season match in the maize and blue. Playing in the No. 6 singles position, Schalet captured a narrow victory against Enzo Wallart in the only three-set match of the day.
Winning the first set, 7-5, Schalet went into the second unscathed. Wallart, though, pulled out a win in a 9-7 tiebreaker, evening the match.
Because the team match was already decided, as Michigan was down, 4-2, it was determined that Schalet and Wallart would play a 10-point superbreaker rather than a third and final set.
Though there was no team win in sight for Michigan, Schalet made sure the Wolverines traveled back to Ann Arbor with one final point, winning the deciding tiebreaker, 13-11.
“There were a lot of positives, but overall, we’re all competitors and we want to win,” Steinberg said. “We came here for one reason, to be successful. We wanted to get a win to start the year.”
Michigan was down 1-0 from the start, losing both of its doubles matches — 6-2 at the No. 3 spot and 6-4 at the No. 1 spot. The third match was stopped after Kentucky had won two of the three doubles matches, clinching the doubles point.
Steinberg’s solution for disjointed doubles play was simple: “Our intensity at the beginning needs to be much better, and we need to play as a team more. I didn’t think we played with that fight and passion that we do in practice. We’re disappointed.”
Such disappointment continued into the first three singles matches, as the Wolverines dropped matches in the first, second and third singles positions.
But Michigan is taking its final three-game stretch as a positive, despite the debacle against the Wildcats.
“The guys showed a lot of character by fighting like that until the end,” Steinberg said. “It gives us good momentum going into next week.”
And it is this momentum that the Wolverines are going to need, as this past weekend marked the start of what they hope will be a successful season.