The No. 47 Michigan men’s tennis team’s match had been decided. There was no way the Wolverines could come back against No. 5 Ohio State yesterday at the Varsity Tennis Center.
But the Wolverines’ last player of the afternoon was playing as if he was competing for a Big Ten Championship.
“I definitely recognize when that four hits the scoreboard,” sophomore Chris Madden said, referring to the match victories needed for a team win. “But once that happens, I’ve never gone to the point where I’m thinking, ‘The match is over.’ I still want to win my match.”
Madden was in the midst of his toughest contest of the season against Buckeye freshman Chase Buchanan, one of the nation’s top high-school recruits last year.
After dropping the first set, the always-vocal Madden decided to switch jersey colors from white to blue without explaining why.
Whatever the reason, the jersey switch helped the Lotus, Calif., native bounce back, winning the second set to force a third frame. Madden outlasted Buchanan in a 17-15 third-set 10-point tie breaker to win the match, 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (15).
“(Buchanan) had a very good forehand, and he was solid from the baseline,” Madden said. “So I had to continue to step up and be very consistent. Once I got an attacking ball, I had to try to attack and get him moving towards his backhand side.”
Madden’s win was the only one for the squad. The Wolverines dropped the other five singles matches in their 6-1 loss to Ohio State (6-0 Big Ten, 23-1 overall).
But Michigan coach Bruce Berque wasn’t too upset that the Wolverines lost to the best team in the Big Ten thus far this season.
“I think we’re physically capable of winning matches against Ohio State, but we’re not as seasoned, we’re not as polished and we’re not as consistent as they are,” Berque said. “It’s not that they hit better shots than us, it’s just they do it over and over and over again and we don’t yet.”
While Michigan wasn’t the best team on the court yesterday, Saturday proved to be a different story against No. 51 Penn State (2-3, 9-9).
Led by Madden and senior Andrew Mazlin’s win (9-8) at the No. 2 doubles position, Michigan grabbed five of the six singles matches and the doubles point to end up on the winning side of a 6-1 score.
“We knew we had to win that match,” Mazlin said. “Our coaches talked about just having everyone bring their most competitive effort in singles and doubles, all nine matches, and they felt we did that.”
While Michigan (2-4, 8-13) obviously wanted to win both matches this weekend, Berque’s team was satisfied with the weekend result: grabbing a split before heading on the road for its next two matches against Michigan State and Purdue.
“In regards to where our level is — I feel like we’re starting to become the team I thought we were going to be at the beginning of the season,” Berque said.