Goliath marched into the Varsity Tennis Center yesterday, and
even a slingshot-wielding David was powerless against him. Despite
its most valiant efforts, the No. 53 Michigan men’s tennis
team allowed No. 1 Illinois to cruise to a 5-2 win for its
NCAA-record 55th straight victory. The match, which followed a
disappointing 5-2 loss to Purdue on Saturday, was the last
appearance at home for Michigan senior Anthony Jackson.

Before the athletes took the courts for their singles matches,
Michigan coach Mark Mees took a moment to reflect on the departure
of his lone senior.

“He has had a tremendous four years at Michigan,”
Mees said. “He has been a tremendous part of our team. He is
a great young man, and we are certainly going to miss
him.”

Jackson’s parents, Leonard and Sharon, made the six-hour
drive from Milwaukee to Ann Arbor one final time to see Anthony
suit up for the Maize and Blue.

“Every time I watch him, as a father, it’s not about
a match,” Leonard Jackson said. “It’s about
watching someone you have raised perform. And I’m going to
miss that.”

Jackson’s roommate, junior Vinny Gossain, knows that
Jackson will be successful, whether he continues his tennis career
or enters law school.

“He should give tennis a shot, and see what
happens,” Gossain said. “And if he doesn’t want
to do that, he’ll be a lawyer. He’s always got
something to say, so he’s got that going for him.”

Unfortunately, the Fighting Illini (8-0 Big Ten, 23-0 overall)
spoiled Jackson’s going-away party. The Illini swept the
doubles matches, but Gossain and Jackson almost took out Michael
Calkins and Pramod Dabir, falling 9-7.

“Anthony and Vinny are very good friends, and they clicked
pretty well,” Mees said. “They played some good doubles
right to the very end; they just didn’t quite finish
it.”

With junior Michael Rubin and freshman Steve Peretz sitting out
due to injury, many Wolverines were forced to play above their
normal positions — an extremely difficult task against the
nation’s best.

At No. 1 singles, a screaming serve down the line by No. 2 Brian
Wilson ended Jackson’s home career, 6-1, 6-2. Freshman Ryan
Heller battled back at No. 3 singles after losing the first set to
No. 117 Ryler DeHeart, but couldn’t quite finish the job,
losing 6-3, 7-5.

But two Wolverines managed to shock higher-ranked opponents.
Freshman Brian Hung fell behind 4-1 in a final-set tiebreaker at
No. 2 singles, but rallied for five consecutive points, storming
past No. 30 Phil Stolt (3-6, 6-3, 1-0(7)) to the delight of the
Michigan faithful. In No. 4 singles action, junior David Anving
dominated No. 104 Michael Calkins, winning 6-1, 6-2.

“They were both good wins because they were playing good
players,” Mees said. “It helps, that you see that some
of the hard work pays off. I was happy for those guys.”

Michigan may have been aided by Mother Nature. While it was a
spectacular day for watching tennis, with high temperatures in the
upper 70s, winds in excess of 20 miles per hour routinely affected
the course of the ball. This may have allowed the Wolverines to get
a leg up on the normally unflappable Illini.

“It kind of levels the playing field,” Gossain said.
“You’re not so sure of yourself.”

No weather conditions could have helped Michigan (2-6, 11-8) in
Saturday’s match against No. 68 Purdue. After Jackson and
Anving were edged out in the decisive doubles match, the Wolverines
never really challenged. Only Hung (6-2, 2-6, 6-1) and junior Josef
Fischer (6-2, 7-6(5)) came up with victories.

With just one weekend of conference play left before the Big Ten
Championships, time is running out for the Wolverines.

“Hopefully we can get some people in the training room,
keep the trainers busy, and see if we can get as healthy as
possible,” Mees said. “We just want to get some Big Ten
wins.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.