Carrying its highest national ranking in recent memory, the Michigan men’s tennis team is under pressure to perform well in every match.
And the 32nd-ranked Wolverines did just that Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center, sweeping their doubleheader in convincing fashion. Michigan defeated both Marquette and Butler, 7-0.
In the first match of the day – which was also the first dual match of the season – against Marquette, Michigan quickly took the doubles point, with wins in two of three matches. The doubles bill was highlighted by a strong 8-2 win by senior Brian Hung and junior Matko Maravic, the second-ranked tandem in the nation.
The Wolverines were even more dominant in the singles portion of the dual meet. All six matches were straight set victories. Freshman Mike Sroczynski earned his first career dual match victory (6-1, 6-1) over Marquette junior Greg Sirotek.
The nightcap against Butler was no different.
Michigan coach Bruce Berque mixed up the lineups, giving some inexperienced members of the team a chance to prove themselves against worthy opponents.
“I didn’t think it was worth it to risk injury,” Berque said. “Also, there are plenty of guys on this team who practice well and are always ready to play. I have a lot of confidence in everyone out there.”
Sophomore Mike DePietro, who didn’t see action during the afternoon match, took advantage of the promotion. DePietro paired up with fellow sophomore Andrew Mazlin for an 8-2 victory. Shortly after the conclusion of Mazlin and DePietro’s contest, freshman George Navas and Sroczynski defeated their opponents, 8-4, ensuring the doubles point for Michigan.
Although the point was already secure, there was still a great battle going on in the final doubles match. The dynamic duo of Hung and Maravic climbed out to an early 5-2 lead against Butler’s James Low and Ben Raynauld. They soon saw their early advantage slip away as the Bulldogs put the match back on serve at 5-5.
The vocal Maravic and the reserved Hung seemed to have met their equals. But the team persevered and squeaked out a victory in a tiebreak, 9-8(2), avoiding a tremendous upset in their quest for the No. 1 doubles ranking.
“They’re so good at winning close matches,” senior tri-captain Ryan Heller said. “They have been playing together for awhile, and have developed a strong positive mentality even when they’re down.”
With momentum coming off that dramatic win, Michigan took all six singles matches with ease against the overmatched Bulldogs. Berque decided to give Hung the night off after his doubles win and created a new lineup that produced the same results.
Sophomores Scott Bruckmann and Peter Aarts were among the new singles starters for the night match, and each showed confidence and passion in their respective wins.