After a two-week stretch at home, the Michigan men’s tennis team has secured four straight wins, pushing its overall record to 9-2. Of these nine wins, seven have been at the Varsity Tennis Center, accounting for a perfect record at home.
The Wolverines’ weekend started off with a 5-2 win against Washington on Friday. Michigan took the lead early during doubles, where all three teams managed to take the lead. The No. 2 team, consisting of juniors Jathan Malik and Kevin Wong, finished first with a 6-4 win. Redshirt sophomore Davis Crocker and freshman Lubomir Cuba, the No. 3 team, finished next with a 6-3 win to seal the doubles point for the Wolverines. The No. 1 team of redshirt sophomore Alex Knight and sophomore Runhao Hua held a 5-3 lead before the match was abandoned.
Michigan has been experimenting with the doubles lineup for the majority of the season. While members such as Knight, Malik and Hua have had a consistent presence, others have been rotating in and out for a few months.
“We have 11 players, and this is one of the few times ever in my coaching career where all 11 guys can really play,” said Michigan coach Adam Steinberg. “I told them early on that the first few months of the season, we were going to be switching around and trying different things and hopefully by Spring Break we have it. We haven’t been winning the doubles point against some of the really good teams, but it worked today.”
With singles points coming from Hua, Knight, Wong and sophomore Carter Lin, the Wolverines were able to outscore the Huskies for their third straight win of the season.
Despite Friday’s success in doubles against Washington, the Wolverines dropped the point against Tulsa on Sunday. Michigan’s only winning doubles team was its No. 2 pairing of Malik and Wong, with a 6-4 advantage. No. 1 and No. 3 lost tiebreakers, allowing Tulsa to grab the doubles point.
Early in the season, this would have been the deciding point for the Wolverines — every time Michigan dropped the doubles point in early-season matches, it took home a loss. However, after beating Alabama last week despite dropping the doubles point, it seems that the Wolverines have broken that trend. Michigan retaliated in singles for a hard-fought 4-1 win over Tulsa.
Wong was the first player off the court, with a short straight-set win at No. 6, 6-2, 6-2. His season record has now improved to 14-4.
Knight finished at the No. 2 position soon thereafter with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. Hua followed suit in straight sets at the No. 5 spot, winning 6-1, 6-4.
Lin was the deciding point for the Wolverines, and delivered a thrilling match at the No. 3 spot. After winning the first set, 6-2, he dropped the second set with a 7-3 tiebreaker. He came back in the third set for a repetitive 6-2 score, securing the win for the Wolverines.
The final two matches were abandoned after Lin’s deciding point, and the Wolverines emerged from their homestretch undefeated.
“It feels great. It feels like we’re really building something awesome here,” said Steinberg. “It’s a great feeling for the guys. We don’t get too ahead of ourselves. The depth of our team is so good, and we’re tough against anybody because No. 1 through No. 6, we can really play.”
Now that the Wolverines have improved their ability to play after dropping the doubles point, they’ll have to work on improving away from home. With a weak record on the road, Michigan needs to handle away matches the way they handle home matches if they want to keep the streak going.