After he won last year’s Big Ten Singles Championship last fall, you’d think Michigan senior Matko Maravic would be focused on defending his crown.

But after missing the ITA Regional tournament and several other tournaments because of a minor hamstring sprain, Maravic has played just two singles matches so far this season. He wants to get back on the court and get some matches under his belt at this weekend’s Big Ten Singles Championship hosted at the Varsity Tennis Center.

“I really just want to focus on my first match,” Maravic said. “Since I haven’t played in a while, I just want to have a good first round and go from there.”

Maravic’s only singles action came at the All-American Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., in early October. He won his first round match, but in the second round he lost to Virginia’s No. 1 Somdev Devvarman, last year’s NCAA champion.

Now, with a healthier hamstring, Maravic is ready to go. If past performances are any indication of the potential of his senior season, Maravic is sure to impress.

“Most people who come out to watch Matko really enjoy watching him play,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “He plays with a lot of passion.

“He may not always have the strongest physical skills compared to his opponents, but he always finds a way to win based on his competitiveness, his understanding of the game and his will to win.”

These characteristics were key components of Maravic’s title last fall, when he defeated Indiana’s David Bubenicek 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

But it isn’t just Maravic who could make some noise this weekend.

The tournament looks promising for the rest of the Michigan team, which will enter eight players into the main draw and two into the qualifying draw.

Berque said the strongest Big Ten competition will be Wisconsin. But with the way the Wolverines have been playing and practicing lately, expectations are high that there will be several deep runs in the tournament.

“Every single person on the team is playing well and has a great chance to do well in the tournament,” Maravic said.

Berque expects the team to have a good showing, especially with freshman Jason Jung and sophomore Mike Sroczynski looking to build on recent tournament success at the ITA Regionals. There, both Jung and Scroczynski reached the third round in singles, and, as a pair, got to the tournament final in doubles.

The qualifying draw will be played tomorrow, and the 64-player main draw will begin Saturday morning. The semifinals and final of the tournament will be Monday.

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