Early in doubles play on Friday, Michigan junior Connor Johnston and sophomore Harrison Brown trailed Cornell’s No. 1 doubles pair, 2-0. The Big Red appeared to be on their way to a decisive victory over the Wolverines.
But the duo rebounded by winning six out of the next seven games, netting a 6-3 win while setting the stage for a 4-1 Michigan victory over Cornell.
Sophomore Mattias Siimar and freshman Andrew Fenty clinched the doubles point for the Wolverines moments later, defeating the Big Red No. 2 pair, 6-4. Senior Myles Schalet and freshman Patrick Maloney were tied with Cornell’s No. 3 pair, 5-5, when the point was clinched.
Michigan coach Adam Steinberg was impressed with the team’s performance in doubles, particularly Johnston’s resilience under pressure.
“I’m really happy with (the doubles),” Steinberg said. “And Connor (Johnston) always sticking with it and being strong. He’s an amazing competitor.”
In singles play, a tough day for Maloney ended with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat on the No. 5 court at the hands of Daniel Soyfer, tying the meet at 1-1. Siimar shined in the No. 1 spot for the Wolverines, dispatching Cornell’s Alafia Ayeni in a 6-4, 6-1 triumph. Schalet and Johnston both dominated in their first sets, winning 6-2 and 6-1, respectively. Cornell’s Iro Vasa forced a 5-5 tie against Schalet in the second set, but Schalet won two straight games and secured the match, 7-5. Johnston fared similarly in his second set, playing the Big Red’s Pietro Rimondini to a 5-5 stalemate before defeating him, 7-5, securing the meet for Michigan.
Fenty won his first singles set, 6-1, before dropping the second set, 6-2. He trailed his third set, 4-1, when the meet was clinched. Sophomore Harrison Brown won his first set, 6-3, and was tied at 5-5 at the end of the meet.
In his first time playing at the No. 1 spot for the Wolverines, Siimar had perhaps his strongest performance yet this season.
“He was the MVP today,” Steinberg said. “He played a great match against one of the best players in the country last week at Baylor…and you could just see it coming.”
Added Siimar: “I think (energy) is one of our fundamentals. … If you don’t feel good, or you’re rusty, then the support of your teammates helps you get free. And it’s so much fun to play with good energy.”
Michigan certainly displayed its full energy during the meet — virtually every point was met with shouts of “Go Blue!” from the players — something Steinberg views as evidence of his team’s close bond.
“Tennis is an individual sport,” Steinberg said. “But we’re always playing for Michigan, we’re playing for each other, and we have to live that. … We actually really have to [be] inspiring and supporting and playing together.”