The day after the Michigan men’s tennis team secured a win in Ann Arbor against No. 12 Notre Dame, the 18th-ranked Wolverines traveled to Cleveland State and dispatched the Vikings in a 5-2 victory, extending their winning streak to six.
While Cleveland State is unranked, the match on Sunday was hardly a cakewalk for Michigan, as it faced challenging competition in both the doubles and singles matches.
“I don’t think we played very well in doubles,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg. “It was disappointing. We got through it, but overall I thought we did OK. It wasn’t our best performance, that’s for sure.
“But it was a tough, tough environment and a tough place to play. With all that said, some of the guys responded very well in singles and it was one of those matches that we were able to get through it.”
The Wolverines started the match with a hard-fought win in doubles. Freshman Ryan Fu and senior Gabe Tishman defeated their opponents, 6-3, at No. 3, in Fu’s first collegiate win at doubles. However, senior Myles Schalet and junior Connor Johnston fell 6-3 at No. 2 doubles. The deciding doubles match went down to the wire, as sophomore Harrison Brown and freshman Andrew Fenty won 7-6 (6) in a tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles, securing the doubles point for Michigan.
While they battled closely in the doubles matches, the Wolverines began singles play on a roll. Michigan won the first sets in all but one of the matches. Several Wolverines had impressive performances in singles, with Fenty, Johnston, Tishman and sophomore Kristofer Siimar winning their matches in straight sets, clinching the match for Michigan.
The Wolverines were not able to close out the singles matches as assertively as they started, however. After winning four straight singles matches, they lost their last two. Schalet fell at No. 1 singles in a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 1-0 (8) loss, and freshman Steven Forman lost in three sets as well, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
The team could have performed more convincingly in doubles and in the last sets of singles, but Steinberg was happy that his team was able to extend their streak of wins in a high-energy environment, facing an engaged home crowd.
“It’s been a great couple weeks,” Steinberg said. “They’ve really earned every match they’ve won and I’m really proud of them.”
After an uncharacteristic 1-2 start to their season, it seems like the Wolverines have managed to find their groove, securing six straight wins, two against ranked teams. They hope to carry forward their momentum as they enter conference play.
“What we’ve been doing seems to be working,” Steinberg said. “We just have to keep remembering that our system of playing for each other, no matter at home or on the road, we always have to stick to it and be relentless with our energy.”