In a surprisingly strong season, the Michigan men’s tennis team has been fueled in its turnaround by consistently strong performances at home. The Wolverines have compiled a perfect 12-0 record at the Varsity Tennis Center, a record paramount to their surge into the ITA Top 25.
This weekend was more of the same for Michigan (4-1 Big Ten, 15-4 overall), as it hosted Indiana (0-3 Big Ten, 4-12 overall) on Friday and Purdue (1-2 Big Ten, 12-5 overall) on Sunday. The Wolverines came out of the weekend undefeated, beating both teams, 4-1.
“We’ve played well here,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg. “We’ve had a heavy home schedule this year, not like last year, where we were on the road a lot. I think the guys have gotten into a rhythm when playing here.”
The Wolverines, who have dubbed their home courts “The Slaughterhouse,” were in danger of having their flawless home record tarnished against Purdue. Despite charging to an early 3-0 lead thanks to quick wins from the No. 6 and No. 5 players, freshman Myles Schalet and sophomore Davis Crocker, the Boilermakers showed some fight by winning in the No. 1 singles match. Purdue also prolonged other matches before finally being defeated by a No. 4 singles win from Michigan sophomore Runhao Hua, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
After the match was done, Michigan’s focus immediately shifted. But the shift wasn’t to its next opponent like it normally is. Instead, the Wolverines geared up to teach the fundamentals of tennis to children in the community in a post-match clinic.
“I think it’s important that we get a nice home base,” said sophomore Davis Crocker. “We have had great fans this year. The fans have been awesome. Club tennis has been incredible as far as influencing matches, and I think it’s important, like with the kid’s clinic today, to get the community involved with the tennis.”
But while the fans are a bonus for the team, it is ultimately the improved play on the court and comfort with their home surroundings that have resulted in Michigan’s success.
“I think we have more of a comfort level here,” Crocker said. “It’s easier for us to support each other from these specific standing points. We’re used to the courts, and I think that all plays a factor.”
Though the home victories for the Wolverines have driven them to their current place in the standings, they will now be forced to get wins away from Ann Arbor. They will play four straight conference matches on the road before returning home to finish the regular season.
But if Michigan is able to maintain its perfect home record, it will have already improved on its disappointing seasons of the past. The Wolverines have already beaten three ranked teams at home this season. They beat Duke, Penn State and Tulsa, who were ranked No. 25, 25 and 22 at the time, respectively. So now, all that’s left to do is prove that Michigan can get it done on the road, too.