When the Michigan men’s tennis team set out for East Lansing on Friday, all four athletes in its contingent hadn’t seen any game action since September. Their performance over the weekend must then be a testimony to the value of rest and practice.
At this past weekend’s Frank Beeman Invitational at Michigan State, the Wolverines’ duos of junior Mattias Siimar and sophomore Andrew Fenty took first place while sophomore Patrick Maloney and senior Nicholas Beaty finished in third. The tournament’s unique structure of three-match rounds –– two singles matches and one doubles match –– allowed for Michigan to showcase its abilities in both formats.
Siimar and Fenty –– the more seasoned pair of the two –– cruised to the finals, going 3-0 in doubles play and boasting a 6-0 singles record over Michigan State, Marquette and Iowa. Sunday’s final saw the pair dominate over Iowa’s Will Davies and Joe Tyler in the doubles match alongside convincing singles wins to take the title.
“We’ve seen them do that in the previous season and they played well again the past few days,” said Michigan associate coach Benjamin Becker. “Andrew is a really good returner and Mattias is one of the best net guys we have, so they really did a good job of playing together and setting each other up for success.”
Maloney and Beaty –– a less-experienced duo whose success was by no means guaranteed –– had a similarly straightforward run until they reached the semifinals against Iowa, where they lost, 2-1, to Davies and Tyler. They went on to sweep Marquette on Saturday evening to snag third place, the progress they’ve both made individually on full display.
Maloney’s last appearance at late September’s Battle of the Bay Invitational in San Francisco three weeks ago was uneven and ended with a minor injury, but his performance this weekend bore none of those marks.
“It was great for Patrick to get some matches under his belt,” Becker said. “He only played in San Francisco last month and then he got a little bit hurt, so it was good to see him back in such solid form.
“Beaty, meanwhile, is one of the most improved guys on the team. It was great for him to have some tough and tight moments, and he came through with solid shots that should give him a big confidence boost.”
The Wolverines seemed to come away from East Lansing with a better sense of their strengths going forward.
“I think we’re at a pretty good point right now,” Becker said. “And more importantly I think we’re better than we were at this point last year in terms of atmosphere and energy.
“The guys know what they need to do and what we expect of them as a team.”