Eugene was unfamiliar territory to the Wolverines on their first away trip of the spring season for Sunday’s match against Oregon. Nonetheless the No. 17 Michigan men’s tennis team (2-1) took on their new opponent in stride with a 5-2 win in both singles and doubles.
The Wolverines’ West Coast trip proved to be a successful one on the heels of a tough loss at home to North Carolina State last week, with another dominant 7-0 win over Washington on Friday.
“These are Pac-12 teams with a tough schedule and they’re used to playing top teams,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “So we knew they were going to make a run, but we withstood it and it was a great win.”
The Wolverines’ two doubles pairs made quick work of the Ducks, who were the highest-ranked doubles opposition they’ve faced this season. After an initial 4-0 run, the duo of sophomore Andrew Fenty and junior Mattias Siimar withstood a four-point Oregon comeback to ultimately come away with a 6-4 win. In the second set, freshman Ondrej Styler and senior Connor Johnston were tied with Oregon before taking the last three games and securing the win, guaranteeing Michigan the doubles point.
“Having a great team stems from having great doubles,” Steinberg said. “So especially on the road, to get the doubles point was a big lift for us.”
Singles play was more mixed. Styler, still new to the college tennis circuit, put on a confident performance against Oregon’s Emmanuel Coste with wins in two straight sets. Senior Nick Beaty brought the Wolverines’ lead to 3-0 with another straight-sets victory over Luke Vandecasteele. Mattias Siimar won both sets as well to solidify Michigan’s singles’ victory. Juniors Harrison Brown and Kristofer Siimar ultimately fell to Oregon after dominant wins in their first sets.
“I’m glad we won all six first sets in singles but then we let them back in, which is something we have to work on,” Steinberg said. “If there was one negative, it’s that we have to work on keeping our foot on the gas like I know we’re capable of doing.”
Steinberg was particularly impressed by Styler and Beaty’s performances, given how little they’ve played this season.
“Ondrej had a great weekend and his wins were a big lift for us in terms of his spirit as well as getting used to playing college tennis,” Steinberg said. “Beaty really stood out as well with his win, and given he hasn’t played as much in his college career so it was great to see.”
Given Michigan has never played at Oregon before as well as the difficult time they had against the Wolfpack last week, Steinberg found this win to be particularly uplifting.
“I think it challenged the team to start the schedule like this, going out west to play in these tough environments in a place we’ve never been before,” Steinberg said. “So I think it got us much more match-ready going forward.”