The Michigan men’s tennis team proved its talent is there at the Bobby Bayliss Hidden Duals tournament, although there’s still work to do. While the team excelled in singles, it’s still looking to improve in doubles.
The Wolverines faced Alabama, Columbia, and Notre Dame this past weekend, winning 13-of-9 singles matches, but only 3-of-9 doubles matches.
On day one, Michigan dropped its first two doubles matches against the Crimson Tide. Fifth year Andrew Fenty and junior Jacob Bickersteth fell in a close match, 6-7, and No. 19 ranked duo sophomore Gavin Young and senior Ondrej Styler lost, 3-6. The sole doubles win of Friday came from freshman Nicholas Steiglehner and sophomore Patorn Hanchaikul.
The Wolverines found more success in singles, winning five out of the six matches that day. After the rocky start in doubles, at No. 1 singles Bickersteth battled to an impressive win against No. 13 Filip Planinsek, 6-3, 7-5. Styler, Fenty, Young and Hanchaikul all won their respective matches.
“I thought the overall energy of singles was really good,” Young said. “We were sticking together as a team, and we’ve been doing a lot of singles in practice … that prepared us well.”
On the second day, Michigan faced a stronger opponent, Columbia, whose roster features three new blue-chip recruits. The Wolverines’ struggles in doubles continued, with them winning only one match. Singles yielded mixed results, as Michigan took 4-of-7 matches.
“A lot of them didn’t play doubles over the summer,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “I see it every September, and it’s cliché, … but we’ve just got to play more.”
Michigan hoped for more success in the final day, but was unable to find it against another formidable opponent in Notre Dame. The Wolverines lost two of the three doubles matches and two of the singles matches.
Although the Wolverines didn’t get the results they wanted on the scoreboard, they built on the culture, and helped the freshman adapt. Notably, Steiglehner earned his first collegiate singles win in straight sets, defeating Connor Fu, 6-4, 6-4.
“In collegiate tennis, we try to make it as much of a team sport as possible,” Young said. “Although you might just be playing against one person, we really try to emphasize sticking together as a team and playing with unity.”
That emphasis on teamwork, which is often absent in professional tennis, is what propelled Michigan to its historic season last year. The Wolverines hope to hone in on this attribute even more this year, to reach its lofty goals.
As Steinberg said: “The goal is to win the National Championship.”