So long, Sparty.

In front of a large and noisy crowd at the Varsity Tennis
Center, the Michigan men’s tennis team squeaked past Michigan
State, 4-3. The victory ended a three-match skid for the Wolverines
(1-2 Big Ten, 9-4 overall).

“It’s always going to be pretty emotional,”
Michigan coach Mark Mees said. “In any sport between Michigan
and Michigan State, it’s very competitive, and today was no
different.”

After the Wolverines split their first two doubles matches,
junior Vinny Gossain and freshman Steve Peretz came through with an
emotional 8-4 victory at No. 3 doubles. The all-important doubles
point would end up being the difference-maker in the match. For
Gossain, an East Lansing native, the win was especially sweet.

“It’ll be a nice feeling to go home and say Michigan
got it done this year,” Gossain said.

After picking up the doubles point, the Wolverines needed three
singles wins to clinch the match. But it would not be easy. Four of
Michigan’s six singles players dropped the first set of their
respective matches.

“Was I concerned? Absolutely,” Mees said.

Of the four, only junior David Anving ended up with a win. With
a strong forehand down the line, he completed his comeback (5-7,
6-1, 6-2), and clinched Michigan’s victory.

“David came out and he was a little tight in the first
set,” Mees said. “To his credit, he picked it up and
hung in there. He’s a tough kid.”

Anving wasn’t the only Wolverine to fight back from an
early deficit. Freshman Brian Hung turned it on in the second set,
only to fall in the third (3-6, 6-1, 3-6). No. 49 Michael Rubin,
who recently returned from injury, locked horns with No. 100 Andrew
Formanczyk. The players played a fierce No. 1 singles match, with
Rubin eventually succumbing in a third set tiebreaker (4-6, 6-3,
6-7[5]).

“That’s the best tennis Michael has played since his
injury,” Mees said.

While his teammates were struggling through three-set matches,
senior Anthony Jackson hurried to complete his No. 2 singles match.
When his opponent Cameron Marshall stalled and caught his breath,
Jackson called for the umpire to resume the match.

“I wanted to finish,” Jackson said.

And finish he did, doing away with Marshall 6-3, 6-2. Peretz
joined Jackson in the win column. He cruised through the first set,
before surviving a much tougher second set to beat Joseph
McWilliams 6-0, 6-4. The more competitive second set came as no
surprise to Peretz, who had prior experience playing
McWilliams.

“I lost to him once where I won the first set,”
Peretz said. “Then he really stepped up his game.”

A win’s a win, but the Wolverines believe they are capable
of much more.

“We’ve got to play better tennis — we’ve
got to take care of some little things,” Mees said.
“I’ve stressed all year long we’ve got to be able
to put nine matches on the court where we play good
tennis.”

With Minnesota and Iowa coming to town this weekend, the
Wolverines will have to be on top of their game. But for now they
can savor their victory over the Spartans (0-3 Big Ten, 13-8
overall).

“Any Big Ten win is big,” Gossain said.
“Especially against Michigan State.”

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