The Michigan men’s tennis team improved its home record to 9-0 with a doubleheader sweep of Columbia and Toledo over the weekend. Saturday, Columbia, the No. 31 team in the country, put up a fight, but Michigan eventually prevailed, 4-2, in a match that lasted more than three hours. Unlike the match against the Lions, the Wolverines’ win over Toledo was never in doubt, as they overwhelmed the Rockets, 5-2.
In the early match against Columbia, junior Alex Knight and sophomore Runhao Hua fought past the nation’s No. 10 doubles pairing, the Lions’ Shawn Hadavia and Richard Pham, to earn Michigan the doubles point. In the Toledo match, the Wolverines easily clinched doubles, 6-3 and 6-2 at the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles spots, respectively.
Against Columbia, Knight, Michigan’s No. 1 singles player, dropped his match, 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, but junior Jathan Malik, sophomore Runhao Hua and freshman Myles Schalet rallied to earn the win for the Wolverines.
Knight was defeated by Toledo’s Stjepan Sisko, 1-6, 5-7, as Sisko’s strong serving kept Knight on his heels for the entire match. Knight lost for the second time in the day and for just the third time this season.
Sophomore Carter Lin retired from his match while leading 6-0, 0-3 due to a flaring up of tendinitis in his lower leg area. Lin also didn’t finish his earlier match, as it was abandoned at 4-4 in the third set when Michigan clinched the victory.
In the evening match, Michigan coach Adam Steinberg rested some of his regulars against an overmatched Toledo team that entered the day with a 7-8 record, including a winless away record.
Slovenian-born freshman Maks Tekavec competed in his first singles match for Michigan, winning 6-3, 6-3.
“Maks’ first win, that’s always awesome to see,” Steinberg said. “He’s had it tough (with injuries) and so I was just happy he was playing.”
Two other freshmen, Schalet and Gabe Tishman, also won their singles matches, 6-2, 6-1, and 6-2, 6-2, respectively. The freshmen played together for doubles and defeated Columbia, 7-5, and were leading 5-2 when their set against Toledo was abandoned.
“We came off a really tough loss last week versus (South Florida), where we played great, but they just got us by a little bit,” Schalet said. “We had a great weekend coming into Big Ten season playing with great energy, confidence, so we’re ready for Penn State.”
The remainder of Michigan's matches are against Big Ten opponents, and the Wolverines have a 13-day layoff before this stretch begins against Penn State.
“I think it’s a good time (for the break),” Steinberg said. “We need to work on some things and just reset and get ready for the Big Ten season. It’s strange that we have a weekend off, but I think there’s a lot of things we have to work on, especially on the conditioning end.”
The Wolverines improved to 29-3 at the No. 5 and No. 6 singles slots on the season with their four wins at those spots on the day.
Michigan has not lost at the No. 6 singles spot since February 13 against Notre Dame, an eight-match winning streak.
“We have as good or better depth than anybody in the country,” Steinberg said. “One through 11, when you come to our practice, it’s really even. It’s unusual. I’ve never had that in my years of coaching.”