Nino Ehrenschneider took a deep breath and readied himself at the baseline. As the serve came in, the junior stepped to his right and sent a forehand return just over the net to the right service box. While Ehrenschneider re-centered himself, his opponent sent over a crosscourt volley onto the left sideline. Ehrenschneider calmly shuffled to his left and beamed it down the sideline with a powerful stroke to win his match in straight sets.
Ehrenschneider’s straight-set victory was one of many for the Michigan men’s tennis team in its Sunday match against Tulane. Out of 11 total matches, the Wolverines claimed eight, asserting their dominance in what had otherwise been a difficult weekend at Mississippi State’s Bulldog Invitational.
Michigan got off to a quick start with its doubles pairings, winning all four matches. The pairings of graduate student Nick Beaty and sophomore Jacob Bickersteth, freshmen Patorn Hanchaikul and Jonny Yaffe and Ehrenschneider and junior Ondrej Styler — who was just returning after a wrist injury — all dominated their matches, winning 6-1, 6-1 and 6-2, respectively.
“We came out stronger and with better energy than we had all weekend,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “Having (Styler) back in the lineup really helped. … He played great for not competing in a long time.”
Only one doubles pairing, senior Ryan Fu and freshman Will Cooksey, faced much real resistance from their opponents. Still the partners held tough, grinding out a 7-6 tiebreak win and securing the doubles sweep.
In the singles portion of the match, the Wolverines faced more difficulty. The first two matches to finish both went in favor of the Green Wave, as Cooksey and Fu continued to struggle, both dropping their matches in straight sets. Later on, Hanchaikul fell in a three-set, back and forth match after he could not capitalize on a 5-3 second-set lead.
There were plenty of bright spots in the singles matches, though. After going down 4-1 in the first set, Yaffe proceeded to win 12 out of the next 13 games en route to victory in straight sets. Beaty made a comeback of his own, dropping the first set 6-3 and then storming back to win the next two sets by the same margin.
“To beat him, you gotta work very hard,” Steinberg said. “He wasn’t feeling his best today in terms of his tennis, and he didn’t play his best, but he fought through it to leave on a high note.”
Michigan’s singles players earned two more victories, as freshman Alexander Zederbauer played a tough match and won on a ten-point tiebreak, played in lieu of a third set. Ehrenschneider won his match in straight sets, completing a weekend in which he only dropped one set through three singles matches and three doubles matches.
At an invitational where the team repeatedly struggled against Alabama and Mississippi State, Sunday’s match served as a successful rebound to cap off the weekend.
“We’re a new team, and it took a day or two to find our way,” Steinberg said. “The intensity, the energy, the focus was better. … It was just a good day today.”