By Matthew Kipnis, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 28, 2014
On the eve of the Michigan men’s tennis team’s first-round Big Ten Tournament victory against Wisconsin, more positive news was sent the team’s way in the form of an All-Big Ten accolade.
Junior Alex Petrone, a team captain, was named to the 2014 All-Big Ten Conference team the league announced on Thursday evening at the annual Big Ten Tournament banquet. Petrone was the lone Wolverine selected to either the first or second team.
“It is cool and an honor to get the award because only the top guys in the Big Ten get that award,” Petrone said. “I have had a couple good wins and been playing well all season.”
Petrone was key for Michigan recently, playing No. 1 singles for most of the season and recording his first victory at the position in the Wolverines 5-2 victory over Iowa.
In the beginning of the season, the Wolverines were unsure who would fill former top player Evan King’s shoes. The position was up for grabs between junior Vlad Stefan and Petrone. However when Stefan struggled early in the year, the decision became clear for Michigan coach Bruce Berque to promote Petrone.
Petrone finished the regular season with a 12-12 dual-match record and a 5-6 mark in conference singles action. The highlights of Petrone’s season came in his three victories over ranked opponents, including the 2014 Big Ten Athlete of the Year, Farris Gosea, on Jan. 26.
In doubles competition, Petrone held a 20-11 overall record, including an 8-3 mark in Big Ten play.
“It is a great honor (for Petrone),” Berque said. “He has really picked up his play in the second half of the season, at the very least holding his own, and getting some wins at the No. 1 position. I think a strong finish to the season earned him that spot, and I am happy for him because he is a hard working guy.”
This was Petrone’s second All-Big Ten accolade, previously being selected to the second team his freshman year in 2012. Senior Shaun Bernstein won Michigan’s sportsmanship award Tuesday night as well.
The bigger award, though, will come Tuesday night when the Wolverines officially learn their fate in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan will most likely make the tournament with its semifinal finish in the Big Ten Tournament. With the help of its Big Ten first-team honoree, the Wolverines hope they can advance past the first round — something they failed to accomplish last year.