With one more win, Michigan men’s tennis coach Mark Mees will move into fourth place in career coaching victories at Michigan.
But to hear him talk about it, the fourth-year coach might as well be at the very bottom of the list.
“I really don’t look at (the win list),” Mees said. “My goal is to get this team back into the top 15 or 20 in the nation … I think we are working hard, and we’ve got some good things in place. If we take care of things, the wins will come.”
Mees’ ultimate goal is to get his team back to the glory days of the 1970s and early ’80s, a period in which Michigan won 16 straight Big Ten Championships.
Two young players who are integral in helping Mees achieve this goal are sophomore No. 1 singles player Michael Rubin and his brother, freshman Carey Rubin. The Rubins and the rest of the young Wolverines have shown plenty of passion and excitement so far this season.
“I like the fire that we show and the competitiveness,” Mees said. “I know we’ll play hard, I do know that.”
Carey Rubin, the lone freshman on the team, has recently been seeing exhibition action during the team’s dual matches.
“Nobody works harder than (Carey),” Mees said. “He’s got some things that he needs to work on technically, but he has been a great addition to the team. We’ll see how it plays out.”
A big test for the youthful Wolverines (3-2) will come this weekend in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the team will take on Wake Forest and William and Mary.
Wake Forest (2-0) is currently ranked No. 23 in the nation, and will likely present the stiffest test that Michigan has faced all year.
Interestingly enough, Michael Rubin has defeated the Demon Deacons’ top singles player several times before in the junior ranks. The elder Rubin knows that winning in juniors is entirely different from winning in college.
“Wake Forest is a very good team,” he said. “They are very deep one through six. A lot of guys in the lineup were proven, successful players in their junior careers. It is definitely going to be a tough match.”
William and Mary (3-2), although not as highly ranked, will also prove to be a tough matchup for the Wolverines.
“They are a pretty solid team from top to bottom,” said Rubin. “Anytime you play on the road at a neutral site, it is always a challenge. (William and Mary) is definitely going to come ready to play.”
Regardless of what happens this weekend, Mees will never question the commitment and competitive spirit of his team.
“We have a real close group of guys,” he said. “They have been a pleasure to work with.”