The No. 23 Michigan men’s tennis team lost its season opener on Saturday to No. 22 Alabama, 4-3, after failing to recover from losing the doubles point.
Sophomores Mattias Siimar and Harrison Brown managed to snap up a win at No. 2 doubles with a 6-3 victory. However, the Crimson Tide won two doubles matches, 7-6, during tiebreakers at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles, which ultimately helped secure them the doubles point. Alabama used the momentum from its doubles win as a catalyst for its singles performance.
The Crimson Tide extended their lead from 1-0 to 3-0 with singles wins against Siimar and senior Myles Schalet. Michigan then launched a comeback campaign when junior Connor Johnston at No. 4 singles won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
“Connor played very well at a position he had not played before in singles,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg. “He’s a good athlete, who is able to adapt.”
Freshman Patrick Maloney carried on the Wolverines’ steady recovery. He earned a win at No. 5 singles, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
These two wins from Johnston and Maloney cut the score to 3-2.
“We fought back from a 3-0 deficit,” Steinberg said. “That’s not easy to do, and I’m proud of them.”
Despite this impressive feat by Michigan, Alabama still managed to clinch the match and definitively stop the Wolverines’ comeback. The Crimson Tide solidified their win when Michigan senior Gabe Tishman at No. 6 singles played in two tiebreakers but eventually fell, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7).
However, Michigan ended the match on a high note when freshman Andrew Fenty closed the competition by defeating No. 41, Crimson Tide player, Patrick Kaukovaita, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. This strong performance by the freshman players, particularly Fenty and Maloney, hints at a bright future for the Wolverines’ as they continue to work as a team.
“We have a lot of young talent on the team, and they have a strong team dynamic where they fit together instantly,” Steinberg said. “We will continue to work on fitness and improving overall as the season progresses.”