Michigan redeems itself, beats Detroit handily after Columbia loss

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By Freddy Kasten, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 16, 2014

The Michigan men’s tennis (1-0 Big Ten, 8-5 overall) team defeated Detroit (0-0 Horizon League, 2-9 overall) 7-0 on Saturday night, absolving itself of a 6-1 loss to No. 24 Columbia (0-0 ECAC, 11-1 overall) earlier that day.

Though the first loss was an unsatisfactory one, Michigan coach Bruce Berque wouldn’t let his team get down.

“The loss was definitely disappointing,” Berque said. “I felt like looking at the grand scheme of things, we were making progress so I told them that we were on the right track. I told them it was time to go after Detroit, play well on every court and try to finish the night on a winning note and get ready to get back at the Big Ten season.”

The victory over the Titans began in Michigan’s favor when the Wolverines picked up the opening doubles point quickly. Both the No. 2 pairing, juniors Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu, and No. 3 pairing, freshmen Kevin Wong and Tyler Gardiner, were victorious, winning their matches 8-2 and 8-4, respectively.

Zhu and Petrone were dominant, going up 4-0 to begin the match and set the tone for the rest of the team. Though they would drop the next two games, Zhu powered the duo to triumph, getting the winning point during the sixth set on the second deuce.

“We were up 4-0, had all the momentum and were playing pretty well,” Petrone said. “With a team like that, we were able to do what we do best and I think Mike played well, too.”

The Wolverines’ success continued over into the singles matches. Petrone rolled, winning in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, and finishing before anyone else. It was a substantial victory for the captain.

“A win like this definitely helps with confidence,”Petrone said. “We’re coming out of the weekend with a win and this match helps us go forward because everyone is now confident leaving the building feeling better than they did against Columbia.”

All of Michigan’s other singles players won their matches in straight sets as well. Zhu and Franks were the most dominant, as both prevailed 6-2, 6-3.

Though Detroit is not nationally ranked, the victory was still a decisive and meaningful one for the Wolverines.

“We had won four matches in a row going into today, so it was nice to finish on a winning note going into the next week,” said Berque. “A lot of guys got some positives out of the win and feel better about their games now. It’s a win.”

Earlier on Saturday, though, the story was completely different. The Wolverines fought hard to start the match, playing out a doubles point that lasted 90 minutes, but started behind 1-0 to launch the match against Columbia. Michigan’s pairing of senior Shaun Bernstein and Wong won its match, but Buzzi and Franks and Petrone and Zhu were not as successful, losing 8-7 and 8-3, respectively.

The doubles point went down to the wire, as Buzzi and Franks’ match was the last to conclude. The duo knew it needed to get the final point to clinch the match for the Wolverines, but was defeated 8-7, making it hard for the team to recover against such a talented squad.

The match went downhill for Michigan from then on. Redshirt junior Justin Rossi was victorious, beating his opponent 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 for his fifth consecutive singles win, but every other Wolverine lost. Michigan’s No. 1 singles player, junior Vlad Stefan, dropped his match, 6-2, 6-1, along with Petrone. Bernstein, Buzzi and Franks were all defeated in straight sets as well.