Following its monumental upset of then-No. 4 Notre Dame last week, some people may have thought the Michigan men’s tennis team would have experienced a letdown in its ensuing match. But with Michigan State next in line for the Wolverines, that was highly unlikely.
Taking advantage of aggressive doubles play and strong singles matches, Michigan (2-3 Big Ten, 11-5 overall) rolled over the Spartans (1-4, 13-7) 5-2 last night at the Varsity Tennis Center.
“It’s always good to beat Michigan State, there’s no doubt about that,” Michigan coach Mark Mees said. “We were pretty workman-like tonight. I thought our focus was pretty good, and we were able to grind it out.”
After earning victories at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles to claim the point, Michigan wasted little time in capitalizing on its momentum in singles.
Fresh off his victory against 11th-ranked Javier Taborga of Notre Dame, senior Henry Beam jumped all over Michigan State’s Chris Mitchell at the No. 1 spot, cruising to a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Taking advantage of Mitchell’s erratic play, the senior from Kalamazoo needed just one hour to secure his easiest win of the year.
“It was a joke out there,” Beam said. “He was by far the easiest guy I’ve played all year, and he was horrible. I was laughing half the time because it was an embarrassment.”
Sophomore Anthony Jackson needed a little more than an hour to emerge victorious at No. 4 singles, but he remained poised down the stretch and dispatched Jimmy McGuire 6-3, 6-4.
“I had to have the right mental focus; that was the biggest thing” Jackson said. ” I couldn’t worry about what was happening on the other courts. I knew if I stayed focus on my match, good things would happen.”
Despite moving down one spot in the lineup due to his recent struggles, Jackson did not allow his demotion to affect him.
“I can’t look at that from a negative standpoint,” Jackson said. “That’s pretty much short term. I have to look long term and think how am I going to get better as a player. That’s the attitude I’m taking.”
Senior Greg Novak cemented the victory over the Spartans at No. 5 singles with an easy 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Eric Simonton. Despite lacking the size to be a quintessential force at the net, Novak made a strong emphasis to come up when he had the chance.
“He wasn’t hitting the ball too deep so I started taking advantage of his short balls by coming to the net and finishing off the points,” Novak said.
Freshman Matt Lockin tallied the final point for the Wolverines with a convincing 6-4, 6-4 victory over Goran Tapalo at the No. 3 spot.
Michigan will have just two days of rest before it heads back out on the road this weekend for a showdown with Penn State and current Big Ten leader Ohio State.