After losing the first set 3-6 and going down three games to none in the second set, the prospect of a win was bleak for senior Gabe Tishman as he faced Central Florida’s Mikhail Sokolovskiy at No. 6 singles for the Wolverines on Sunday. Despite the healthy crowd at the Varsity Tennis Center, Tishman drew only a few half-hearted cheers. Most of the spectators’ eyes were focused elsewhere.
An hour later, the scene was completely different. After bouncing back to win the second set 6-4, Tishman battled Sokolovskiy to a tiebreak in the third set. His teammates shouted out “Go Blue!” as Michigan coach Adam Steinberg offered him a few words of advice. The crowd waited in hushed anticipation.
Finally, Sokolovskiy sent a shot wide, and Tishman emerged victorious, completing the Wolverines’ sweep of Sunday’s singles matches. He raised his fist as the crowd erupted in cheers and his teammates rushed to join him on the court.
Resilience was the theme of the day for No. 9 Michigan (5-2), who won all six singles matches after dropping the doubles point to the unranked Knights.
“We have to be mentally the strongest and the fittest team to bring the energy like that,” Steinberg said. “To come back like that was terrific.”
Senior Myles Schalet also bounced back from a first-set loss. Central Florida’s Alan Rubio took the first set 7-6 (2), but Schalet rebounded to win the next two sets, 6-4, 12-10 in the No. 2 slot.
In the No. 3 spot, junior Connor Johnston also had a three-set victory for the Wolverines on Sunday. He won the first set over the Knights’ Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi, 7-5, then dropped the second set, 2-6, before taking the third set, 6-2.
Sophomore Mattias Siimar and freshmen Andrew Fenty and Patrick Maloney all found quicker routes to victory. At No. 1 singles, Siimar defeated Gabriel Decamps, the 17th-ranked singles player in college tennis, 6-0, 6-2. Fenty beat Trey Hilderbrand 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3 singles, and Maloney beat Bogdan Pavel, 6-0, 6-4.
The doubles were less encouraging, as Michigan dropped two of the three matches. At No. 1 doubles, Johnston and sophomore Harrison Brown lost to Hilderbrand and Pavel 6-3, and Maloney and Schalet fell to Gabriel Decamps and Grassi Mazzuchi 7-6 at the No. 3 spot. Siimar and Fenty pulled out the Wolverines’ only doubles victory at the No. 2 spot, defeating Sokolovskiy and Rubio, 6-2.
Michigan now prepares to face No. 23 Notre Dame in two weeks in a rematch of last year’s NCAA final, which the Wolverines won, 4-0. The Wolverines will look to continue their offensive dominance and build a stronger sense of team, which they hope will help them to take the doubles point in the future.
“We need to become a team at the crucial moments,” Steinberg said. “Our identity is that we’re going to be there for each other no matter what.”