In its final tournament of the fall season, the Michigan men’s tennis team faced an uphill battle the entire weekend, facing an injury while playing on clay courts – something the Wolverines haven’t acclimated to while practicing in the Midwest.
Taking senior Gabe Tishman, sophomore Kristopher Siimar and freshman Steven Forman to Sarasota, Fla. for the Lakewood Ranch Invitational, Michigan coach Adam Steinberg hoped to carry positive results in both the singles and doubles draws into the offseason. However, that did not seem the case as the weekend progressed. Instead, Forman suffered a foot injury and won only one match, while Tishman was the only Wolverine to win multiple matches on the weekend.
“I would have liked to see (Forman) healthy, playing the way he’s capable,” Steinberg said. “I don’t think he did that this fall, and I would have liked to see him finish on a high note.
“(Tishman) played really well, and that’s a big lift for our team as our senior captain. I felt like in singles, he’s had a lot of injuries, especially last year. He broke a rib in the middle of the season and was out the rest of the year. So for him, you know, I thought he played well last weekend at the Big Ten Tournament, and I thought he continued it on (this weekend). I thought that was a big lift for us.”
Tishman’s marquee win came against No. 1 seed Juan Montes from Florida Gulf Coast in the Round of 16, winning 10-6 in a third-set tiebreaker before falling to Guilermo Cabrera of Notre Dame, 6-4, 6-4.
“Just getting in competition is probably the big takeaway,” Tishman said. “Even though this tournament was on clay court, having a sense of competition is really different from anything we do in practice.
“Tennis on clay court is a completely different sport than what we’re used to up north playing a lot indoors on fast, hard courts. It’s a good change-up. You know, college tennis is primarily played on hard court, so it’s fun to get out on a different surface and play a different style of game. We really had to focus on hitting really heavy and controlling the point with your forehand. It’s harder to hit winners so you sort of have to work the point a little more and be little more strategic.”
Siimar, like Forman, went 1-1 on the weekend as well, winning 6-3, 6-4 over Oklahoma State’s Emile Hudd before being ousted handedly the next day by Florida freshman Lukas Greif 6-2, 6-3.
“I think (Siimar) sees the University of Florida and these highly-ranked guys, and I think he needs to believe in himself more,” Steinberg said. “If he did that, he would play freer. He would swing faster, move harder and just play overall more aggressive.”
The doubles team of Tishman and Forman also saw relatively little success. They took only one match on the weekend. After a 6-2 defeat of a Louisville duo that each player had seen in the singles draw, Michigan was forced to forfeit the quarterfinals match due to Forman’s injury, another addition to the disappointments of this lackluster weekend.
“I’m not thrilled with where we are,” Steinberg said. “I don’t think anybody is. We have a lot to do. We have a young team. We’re still not a team yet, the way that we need to be. I think this will be the most important two months of the year.”