With the dual-meet season looming, the Michigan men’s tennis team needed a spark at last weekend’s Duke Invitational.
Next Saturday, Michigan begins the relentless regular season, starting with two dual meets against Western Michigan and Ball State. Both will be played in Muncie, Ind.
So, going into the weekend, the Wolverines wanted momentum. They wanted to start the season with fiery serves, impeccable groundstrokes and consistency.
They wanted to win.
No. 21 Michigan traveled to Durham, N.C., to take on East Coast competition and tune up for the regular season, and they did just what they went to do – win.
Win a lot.
“It’s good to play a lot of matches the week before the season starts,” junior Peter Aarts said. “It sharpens everyone up.”
The Wolverines fared well in the three-day tournament. They started strong, taking nine of 11 singles matches and three of five doubles matches on Friday against No. 10 North Carolina.
Building off its first-day success, Michigan picked up six singles victories and swept all four doubles matches against No. 16 Duke Saturday.
No Wolverine lost on Monday, as the team piled up nine singles and five doubles victories over players from Elon and UNC.
While the round-robin tournament didn’t count for team records, the matches count for individual player’s statistics.
Senior captain Matko Maravic won all three singles matches he played against some of the nation’s toughest competition, and he wasn’t the only one to go undefeated. Aarts and juniors Scott Bruckmann and Andrew Mazlin didn’t lose all weekend.
The No. 23 doubles team of freshman Jason Jung and sophomore Mike Sroczynski rolled through all three of its matches, cementing the bond between the players. They look to make an impact in the dual-meet season and make a run at the NCAA doubles title at the end of the season.
“At this point, we’re going to start with them,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “You never know what’s going to happen, but it looks like they’ll be a team.”
Berque said Maravic and sophomore George Navas will pair up to be another doubles team, but the coaches are still experimenting with the roster to create a third team. Maravic and Navas collected two victories in the tournament.
While next weekend’s back-to-back meets will test their endurance, the Wolverines’ first real challenge won’t come until the first weekend in February, when they take on No. 17 Pepperdine and No. 1 Virginia in Ann Arbor.
But after the way it handled top-20 competition this weekend, Michigan is confident it can compete with the nation’s best.
“We set the bar pretty high, doing really well this weekend,” Aarts said. “Everyone’s really confident mentally and that’s really important against tough teams. It’s a good way for us to start the season.”