BY ALEX STEINHOFF
Daily Sports Writer
Published April 23, 2011
If someone wanted to know the storyline of the Michigan men’s tennis team’s season, all he would have to do is look at details of Saturday’s match against Northwestern. The Wolverines dropped the doubles point before storming back in singles to pull of four straight victories en route to a 5-2 victory.
Falter early, finish strong — just as it has been all year.
In the final regular-season match of his career, senior captain Jason Jung – who was partnered in doubles with freshman Shaun Bernstein – put on a doubles show in Evanston.
Jung and Bernstein stormed out and won 8-1 before any of the other matches neared their finishes. The win gave Jung his 87th career doubles victory, three wins from the Michigan all-time record.
But that was the lone bright spot for Michigan in doubles play.
“The doubles was disappointing, but we responded well,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “The good news is that we don’t panic after we lose the doubles point, but the bad news is that we haven’t improved at a quick enough rate in doubles.”
When the singles play started, the will of the seniors returned. Chris Madden won in double-bagel fashion, 6-0, 6-0, over a player who he had seen in juniors many times before. His victory tied the dual at 1.
“I definitely needed the experience, which is something I have been trying to gain,” Madden said. “To be able to put together a whole match and play well from start to finish was good going into the postseason.”
As Madden was leaving the court to cheer on his team, the Wolverines were still closing their first sets. Every Michigan singles player won the first set, giving the Wolverines an edge on every court.
Jung didn’t want to leave Madden alone watching and cheering on his teammates for that long. The senior captain quickly finished off his opponent at No. 2 singles, 6-2, 6-1, ending his regular-season career in style. The two wins by the seniors propelled Michigan to a 2-1 lead.
At No. 3 singles, Bernstein helped Michigan inch closer to the dual win. After a hard-fought first set, Bernstein played another tough set for the victory. The win was Bernstein’s 21st singles win of the season, leaving him one short of tying Madden for eighth all-time for wins in a season as a freshman.
After Bernstein left the court, freshman Barrett Franks finished off a second set 6-4 after storming back in the first to take the set, 7-5. Franks’ victory gave Michigan win No. 4 and clinched the victory for the Wolverines, sending the two seniors out with a dual win.
With the match already decided, Michigan split the final two matches, and sophomore Evan King closed his stellar season with a win, 6-3, 7-6, at No. 1 singles, while sophomore Chris Cha fell in three sets.
Madden and Jung may have closed their regular-season careers out with victories, but the two seniors and the rest of the Wolverines will have to wait until Thursday when the Big Ten Tournament gets underway.
“More important is that it’s not our final match, and there’s still the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA tournament,” Berque said. "But we did talk about getting in the mindset that it is a postseason match so we can be really ready with our mental approach when the tournament starts.”
Michigan currently sits tied for fifth in the conference standings and will have to wait to learn its seeding in the tournament. While still focused on the Big Ten Tournament, this Wolverine team will also get ready for the NCAA Tournament, where its season ended in the Sweet 16 a year ago, the first Sweet 16 for the men’s team in 20 years.
“Our goal is to win that first match in the (Big Ten) Tournament, and then our next goal is to win the match after that,” Berque said. “We have to try and get better in the next few days and prepare us for that first match.”