The Michigan men”s tennis team will not forget last weekend for a long time. With the match on the line both Saturday and Sunday, two players on opposite ends of the experience spectrum stepped up and hit the shots when they counted. Freshman Anthony Jackson gritted out a three-set marathon against Tulane on Saturday while junior Danny McCain pulled off a stunning comeback victory on Sunday against DePaul.
“They”re both consistent, and put a lot of pressure on their opponents,” sophomore Chris Shaya said. “If I were a betting man, I”d bet on them in the clutch.”
But it wasn”t the fact that these two players were different in terms of experience that was striking about the victories. It was the fact that Jackson plays No. 4 singles, while McCain competes at No.2. Michigan capitalized on their depth in both matches overall, and when the top of the lineup faltered, the bottom stepped up.
“I didn”t realize how deep we were (this year) until the Big Ten Singles Championships,” Shaya said. “We”ve got guys who can compete with any other guys.”
Hand-in-hand with depth, though, comes doubles. Michigan has won the doubles point in each of its first three matches, and not surprisingly, has won all three.
“We played three good teams,” Shaya said. “Doubles this year will be a big part of it.”
The first three matches have been character builders for Michigan. The tight matches against Tulane and DePaul will go a long way in preparing the Wolverines for the grind of the Big Ten schedule. The team has already shown mental toughness and will only get better as the year goes on.
Importantly, the Wolverines are not losing focus of the big picture.
“I think the wins were big, confidence wise, but the Big Ten is where it”s at,” Shaya said.
With Louisiana-Lafayette”s Ragin” Cajuns invading the Varsity Tennis Center this weekend, the Wolverines are sure to have their hands full. But don”t be surprised if someone other than Jackson or McCain steps up.
Michigan won”t be.