That was the key word during Thursday’s Michigan men’s tennis match against Notre Dame, in all aspects of the word. Not only did the Wolverines (5-2 overall) continue their win streak against the Irish, which has been ongoing since Feb. 2016, but they also managed to carry the momentum from their doubles win and consecutive singles wins into a 6-1 win.
“Seeing [sophomore Jacob Bickersteth and senior Andrew Fenty] up a set helped,” sophomore Gavin Young said. “It contributed to the momentum, and so, I was really able to stay locked in and not let outside factors creep into my game.”
Young, ranked No. 90 in singles, delivered an electric performance in both his doubles and singles matches. Playing at number two with junior Ondrej Styler, they handed Notre Dame one of two doubles losses, which helped Michigan secure the coveted doubles point. The pressure was all on the duo during the 5th set, when they were tied in sets 2-2, while number one was down and number three was up.
The pressure didn’t get to them though, as they came out with a dominating 40-0 lead which ultimately gave them the win. They then proceeded to take the next two sets and went on to pull out the match win. During his singles set, Young carried the momentum from his doubles performance into his singles win. He secured an early 2-0 set lead and never seemed to let up, winning 6-2 and then 6-1, giving the Wolverines their first singles point.
Fenty competed on the court right next to Young. Despite being at a loss in his doubles match before the match ended because of the other Michigan two doubles wins, he still secured a singles win, handing the Irish their first singles loss between Nefve and Vashistha in the season.
“We survived,” Fenty said. “So by getting it back, we totally flipped. I believe we flipped the whole momentum. It helped the team a ton because we weren’t going to lose or be really close.”
Despite being down two sets early in singles, Fenty fought on and eventually heated up. A passing shot that helped Fenty win the 9th set summarized his comeback, as he took a 5-4 lead and then went on to win the next set, resulting in a 6-4 game win. During the second game, he remained head-to-head with his opponent, Nefve until the very end, when Notre Dame pulled ahead and took the game. However, Fenty never gave up and matched Nefve’s pressure throughout the game and one set was even able to overtake the pressure. Forcing Fenty to run cross court, Nefve was almost guaranteed the win, but with one fronthand hit, Fenty flipped the momentum and took the point.
While these two matches were going on, Bickersteth, senior Patrick Maloney and sophomore Nino Ehrenschneider were all securing wins of their own. Bickersteth and Maloney, both boasting double-digit single wins already this season, notched on another one with 6-2/ 7-6 and 6-3/ 6-3 wins, respectively.
“It was a really good win for us,” coach Adam Steinberg said. “They’re a very good team. We knew that. We love playing Notre Dame, a midwest rival… It’s always a battle. It’s always a really good match.”
The momentum the Wolverines built up throughout the match on Thursday allowed them to emerge from the battle on the right side.