It has been a difficult season for Michigan senior Ben Cox.
Having to overcome a mid-year bout with mono as well as consistent arm pain, he has struggled to a sub-.500 record in singles.
But yesterday, in his final home match as a Wolverine, Cox posted an impressive three-set victory at No. 2 singles to help Michigan (4-4 Big Ten, 13-6 overall) roll to a 5-2 win over the Hawkeyes (3-5, 11-8) outdoors at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor.
“It was fun because it was my last home match,” Cox said. “A bunch of my family was here – not just my mom, my dad and my brother, but my extended family and friends came from hours away to watch. So it was more or less just an enjoyment.”
Despite dropping a tough second set to Iowa’s Jake Wilson, Cox remained aggressive until the end and rode his powerful topspin forehand to a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory.
“My forehand is my whole game,” Cox said. “I was trying to rip his second serve to set up my shot.
After claiming the doubles point with victories at the No. 2 and 3 spots, Michigan clinched the match by taking the close singles contests. Freshman Matt Lockin rebounded from a horrendous start to defeat Iowa’s Petor Moudic, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 3 position.
“I came out a little flat,” Lockin said. “I was confident but not ready to play mentally. He’s a good player, and you can’t do that.”
The match turned at the beginning of the third set when Moudic threw his racquet at the end of the first game.
He received a point penalty from the umpire for his behavior, and then he got an entire game penalty when he continued to argue.
“I felt like he just folded up shop mentally after that,” Lockin said. “It was all downhill from there.”
Playing in just his third match of the season, freshman Josef Fischer rallied from an early deficit in the first set to dispatch Iowa’s Pete Rose, 7-6 (3), 6-3 at the No. 6 position.
“I felt good out there today,” Fischer said. “It’s different outdoors, but a little bit more suited to my game. As long as I play my game, I give myself a good chance to win.”
In the only lopsided match of the afternoon, senior Greg Novak used aggressive net play to trounce Iowa’s Justin Gaord 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 5 spot and round out Michigan’s singles scoring.
The win marked the Wolverines’ first triumph outside this year. After struggling last week on Ohio State’s outdoor courts, coach Mark Mees made sure the team was prepared for Iowa.
“I think we were a little bit better this weekend than we were last weekend,” Mees said. “I would assume that as we keep playing and keep practicing out there, we’ll get a little more comfortable.”
Michigan will play outside for the rest of the season, which means that it will be imperative for the Wolverines to adjust their games.
“It’s a different game (outside),” Mees said. “You have to approach it mentally a little bit different. Things aren’t quite so easy – you can’t just hit a big serve and have the point be over.
“Most of the time the ball is going to come back, so you have to work a little bit harder on the points.”