Since 2000, the Michigan men’s tennis team has posted a 20-4 record against Purdue. And on Saturday, the Wolverines’ winning ways over the Boilermakers continued:
For over a month, that word has described the Wolverines who entered Saturday having won 11 straight matches. And from the match’s very start, it was clear that that description would remain the same.
Extending its win streak to 12 matches, No. 6 Michigan (15-2 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) defeated Purdue (8-10, 1-3), 4-0, behind a solid all-around effort that left little doubt surrounding the outcome.
Yet despite their impressive accomplishments on the court, the Wolverines are taking it match-by-match.
“We don’t talk about a win streak,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “We talk about just playing for each other and taking this individual sport we have and making it a team sport.”
And by playing as a team against Purdue, the Wolverines were able to enjoy great success in all aspects of Saturday’s match.
In doubles play, Michigan set the tone early thanks to a strong effort from fifth-year senior Nick Beaty and freshman Will Cooksey. Behind their impressive volleys at the net, Beaty and Cooksey imposed their will on their opponents, defeating them, 6-1, to earn the Wolverines the first of two wins necessary for the doubles point.
“We put Nick with (Cooksey) to lead him and show him the way,” Steinberg said. “It gave Will a sense of comfort.”
The tandem of junior Ondrej Styler and sophomore Gavin Young continued the Wolverines’ ferocious pace at the net, clinching a victory through an impressive overhead shot by Young that left their opponents helpless.
Young and Styler’s victory clinched the second requisite match for Michigan to win the doubles point, the team’s 15th of the season. And the Wolverines, yet again, got off to a fast start with a 1-0 lead.
In singles play, the thread of dominance never faltered.
Styler quickly dispatched his opponent, led by an impressive shot out of his opponent’s reach to win the first set, 6-1. In the second set, Styler trailed, 2-1, before propelling himself to a five-game winning streak, clinching his ninth straight victory and opening up a 2-0 lead for Michigan.
Beaty, fresh off of a decisive doubles victory, captured his 11th consecutive win in straight sets over his opponent, controlling the pace throughout the match. Beaty’s opponent won three games total over the two sets, and the Wolverines jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead.
To cap off Michigan’s outing, sophomore Nino Ehrenschneider emulated his teammates’ success. Ehrenschneider made quick work of his opponent in the first set, blanking him, 6-0, before pulling away in a closer second set for a 6-3 victory. That win earned the Wolverines the 4-0 victory and their eighth shutout of the season.
But even through all its individual success, Steinberg is adamant that Michigan’s hot streak is in part due to its identity as a team.
“We play the Michigan way … (we) play for each other,” Steinberg said. “And when we … play together (as) a great team, we’re very, very tough to beat.”
And with the postseason fast approaching, the Wolverines have a chance to prove that all the more.