Hua and Knight end their senior seasons in NCAA tournament
Runhao Hua charged up the court and hit the ball past the outstretched racket of Texas A&M’s Patrick Kypson. When the ball hit the ground without a return, Hua let out a yell to celebrate his upset win over the fifth-seeded Kypson in the second round of the NCAA individual singles tournament.
The senior on the Michigan men’s tennis team battled for the three-set victory after losing the first set 6-4. He won ten straight games to win the second set 6-0 and get out to a 4-0 lead in the third set before Kypson began to stage a comeback.
But No. 47 Hua was able to hang on and win the third set 6-4 for likely the largest upset of his career with the Wolverines.
He earned the spot in the round of 32 after a straight-set defeat of No. 28 Johannes Ingildsen from Florida, who had won the previous meeting with Hua. This time, though, Hua was able to battle for a 7-5 first set win and cruise to a 6-2 victory in the second set.
In the round of 16, Hua saw his run in the tournament come to an end with a loss to No. 9-16 seeded Mazen Osama out of Florida. He lost the first set 6-1, but in the second came back from a 5-3 deficit to be within one game of Osama before dropping the set and ultimately the match.
Hua’s fellow Michigan senior Alex Knight also competed in the singles tournament as one of the No. 9-16 seeded players, but Knight’s senior season had a more disappointing ending. After earning a unanimous selection to the All Big-Ten first team and notching a 25-8 record on the season, Knight was upset by Vanderbilt’s Cameron Klinger in straight sets.
Knight and Hua also combined as the Wolverines’ doubles pair for the NCAA doubles tournament. The partnership had been successful throughout its Michigan career — marking a 16-7 record during the 2017-2018 season.
That success didn’t carry through to the tournament as the duo fell 6-2, 6-2 to No. 17 Fabien Fallert and Tim Sandkaulen of the University of Mississippi in the first round of play.
Though their senior seasons didn’t end with a national championship, both Hua and Knight have played large roles in the Wolverines’ success since arriving in Ann Arbor. The seniors have been prominent figures in the lineups since their freshman years, making their graduations a big change for the team.
With Michigan ending the season ranked fourteenth in the country by the ITA and a large class of freshmen coming in the fall, it stands to reason that Knight and Hua will see their spots filled soon and the team’s success will continue.
But the legacies they’ve left will be much harder to replace.