The Rivalry Edition

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Sophomore Andrew Fenty crouches low by the net while his doubles partner, junior Mattias Siimar, winds up for the serve. Siimar fires the ball into the back left corner of the service box where Western Michigans Jannik Opitz reaches out his racket for the return, sending a slow, uncontrolled ball back to the Wolverines. At the net, Fenty springs up raising his racket and bringing it down to smash the ball onto Westerns side of the court. All the Western duo can do is watch as the ball soars over their heads and Michigan scores another point.

Coming off a 4-2 win against No. 8 TCU, its first win against a top-10 team in 10 years, the No. 16 Michigan men’s tennis team held on to close out the day with a win against Western Michigan, 4-2. 

Michigan came out firing on all cylinders in doubles, delivering convincing 6-2 and 6-1 wins to head into singles with a 1-0 lead. The Wolverines excellent chemistry was on full display in the doubles matches as the Michigan players were constantly setting up opportunities for their teammates and encouraging each other throughout the match.

“It’s what our program is about,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “Everything that we do is making teammates better on a daily basis. We live it — it’s not just words, all those words come to life every day in practice. What you see in the matches is what you do everyday.

I can’t ask the guys to do it just on game day, and not be a great team player during the week. It’s something that I’ve believed in for 25 years of doing this — trying to take an individual sport and make it a team sport, and these guys are doing a great job of doing that.”

After a hot start to the day, Michigan stumbled to begin the singles matches with a number of close first sets as Western Michigan looked to potentially steal the day from the Wolverines.

Wins from Siimar (6-4, 6-2) and senior Nick Beatty (7-6, 6-2), who both remain unbeaten in singles for the season, pushed the Wolverines’ point total to three. But senior Connor Johnston and junior Harrison Brown dropped their matches 6-4, 7-5 and 7-6, 6-3, respectively, leaving the match neck-and-neck at 3-2. 

With Michigan in need of one more point to close out the day, the spotlight turned to Fenty on the No. 1 singles court.

Coming off a key singles win against TCU earlier in the day and a dominating doubles performance, Fenty looked to have the momentum for another big win but, inexplicably, struggled. In the first set, Fenty committed a number of unforced errors and his opponent appeared to have him figured out as Western’s Opitz took the first set, 6-3. However, Fenty stormed back to dominate the following sets, 6-2 and 6-1, tallying the final point Michigan needed. 

Fenty attributed his struggles in the first set due to a brief lapse in self confidence.

“I was thinking way too much about him, sometimes I dont think to myself about how good I am and how hard it is for him to play me” Fenty said. “I got a couple games then I just took it to another level.”

After its performance today, Michigan continued to gain confidence and will be looking to carry that success through the rest of the season.

“We can beat anyone,” Fenty said.  “We’re the team that’s tough to play home, away, anywhere you’ve got to go through us and we’re going to hustle and compete for every match, that’s how we do it.”

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