The No. 20 Michigan men’s tennis team (4-1) is hoping for big things this year, and it will need help from senior Evan King in order to accomplish its goals.
King has been extraordinary during his time as a Wolverine. He came to Michigan as one of the program’s most heralded prospects ever. Ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the USTA Boys’ 18-and-under group, there were high expectations surrounding his arrival in Ann Arbor. Safe to say, he has not disappointed. He is a two-time All-American (2011, 2012), and was the Big Ten athlete of the year in 2012.
King was the nation’s No. 4 singles player in the preseason, but had a slow and disappointing start to the season, going 3-3 in his first six matches. King has righted the ship though and, including his win on Sunday, has won eight straight games.
One of those wins came Friday over the No. 2 ranked singles player in the nation, and King believes that that will be an important win for him this season.
“I think I can build a lot from (the victory),” King said. “I am definitely going to build some momentum off of that knowing I can compete with anyone in the country.”
King attributes his improved results to his hard work in practice.
“In the fall I didn’t practice nearly as well as I did in the season, and that’s transferred to wins,” King said.
King’s hard work in practice has benefited not only his personal results, but also the team’s results. The Wolverines are 4-1 this season, and due to strong play from the doubles teams and the work of King and sophomore Vlad Stefan, they’re aspiring to claim their first NCAA championship since the 1956-57 season. In order to meet these goals, they will need King to continue working hard.
“The higher level he brings to the court in practice helps our other guys step it up, too,” said Michigan coach Bruce Berque.
That preparation was apparent during his win on Sunday at home against Wake Forest’s David Hopkins.
“I knew (Hopkins) hits the ball extremely hard, so I wanted to get a lot of balls back and hit the ball out of the strike zone,” King said.
And he did just that – Hopkins played most of the match on the baseline as King approached the net. King was able to keep Hopkins on his heels, while having to continuously chase balls and return tough shots.
King also had a strong forehand Sunday – something that Berque thinks King will need to be consistent with.
“Sometimes in the past, his forehand was not what it should be for someone who is aspiring to play pro tennis,” Berque said.
King has also excelled in doubles matches. The tandem of King and Michigan junior Shaun Bernstein are No. 30 in the nation with a 4-0 record in dual matches and a 7-2 record overall.