The No. 14 Michigan men’s tennis team’s only senior showcased his experience on Friday in Michigan’s 5-2 win over Wisconsin.
Michigan (3-0 Big Ten, 12-2 overall) fought through several tight matches in the victory, but senior Matko Maravic’s singles competition was the most dramatic.
The match lasted longer than any of the other singles matches, and with everyone watching, Maravic put on a show.
“That’s vintage Matko,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “He just finds a way to win. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached and he can always adjust.”
Maravic’s tennis intelligence shined during his singles victory. The three-set match seemed more like a chess game, with each player waiting for his opponent to make a mistake.
At a key moment during the first set, Maravic and Wisconsin’s Moritz Baumann exchanged long hits until Maravic drew his opponent towards the net with a volley. Then Maravic sent him scrambling with a deep shot Baumann had no chance of reaching.
But Baumann was not as easily fooled later in the contest. Both players showed great patience and skill as the long match tested their endurance – both had to change into dry shirts after sweating through their first ones. Maravic eventually made enough big plays in the final set to capture the victory – 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
Junior Peter Aarts also performed at a high level in singles play, beating Wisconsin’s Felibe Bellido in two sets.
With his victory, Aarts achieved his first career 20-win singles season. Despite the sweep, Bellido was a feisty competitor. He openly protested the umpire’s calls throughout the entire match and had to forfeit a set point after hitting the ball into another court’s area out of frustration.
But Bellido was not the only player to disagree with an umpire. Michigan freshman Jason Jung slammed his racket to the ground after a questionable out-of-bounds call in the third set of his singles match. The crowd broke into a chorus of boos and Berque adamantly protested the call. But the umpire didn’t budge and Jung lost the match shortly after.
The day was not a total loss for Jung, though. He and his doubles partner, sophomore Mike Sroczynski, showed great chemistry in their 8-5 victory. Their constant chatter during the match was a factor in the win.
That communication was missing in their last match together against Michigan State on March 12, a defeat that didn’t sit well with the players or coaches.
“They played as if they were expecting their opponents to give it to them,” Berque said. “We had a good talk afterwards and today they came out with a ton of energy and were very good.”
Jung and Sroczynski’s renewed focus was just one of the positives from Michigan’s victory. The Wolverines claimed their sixth consecutive win overall and fifth straight win over Wisconsin (1-1 Big Ten, 9-7).
“I couldn’t be a whole lot more proud of the team than I was (Friday),” Berque said. “There were a lot of close matches that could have gone either way but I think our guys really fought hard on every court and played with a lot of energy.”
The Wolverines look to bring that same energy against Penn State today, when they go for their seventh straight victory.