It was a lopsided affair on Saturday afternoon in Seattle, where the Michigan men’s tennis team lost to Washington. The Wolverines’ first competition on the road also spelled the end of their three-game win streak.
Michigan (4-3) couldn’t catch a break in the first five singles matches and eventually fell to the Huskies (5-2) by a 6-1 margin.
Michigan coach Bruce Berque said the Wolverines ran into a wall against a motivated Washington team that was coming off a tough 4-3 loss against Boise State.
“I think the biggest difference in the match is that Washington played very, very well,” Berque said. “They were coming off a disappointing loss, which made them really eager to play this match.”
The match was also the first true road test for many players on the team, and without home-court advantage, the team that had performed well in a competitive early schedule seemed to lose its edge.
“I think that we have to be a little tougher,” Berque said. “I felt like we had a little bit more softness in this match. It was the first true road match for our guys, though. You know, it was a great experience for them to go through.”
The Wolverines had a disappointing day across the board, losing five singles points from the get-go and dropping the doubles point on losses in the No. 2 and 3 doubles positions. The sole point for Michigan came from sophomore Barrett Franks’s singles victory over Washington’s No. 5 position player, Max Manthou.
For Michigan, the true highlight of Saturday’s match was the performance of the duo of junior Evan King and sophomore Shaun Bernstein, which continued to dominate at No. 1 doubles. The pair, ranked No. 22 nationally, topped Huskies Kyle McMorrow and Emmet Egger by a score of 9-8.
“The consistency, at this point, is the most important thing,” Berque said. “Evan is a junior now, and I think that having been through two full seasons of college tennis, I think that he realizes now that (consistency) is the key. (Consistency) is just in Shaun’s nature.”
Michigan will need to be consistently tougher throughout the rest of its future schedule, especially against its next opponent, Notre Dame. Though the Wolverines will regain home-court advantage against the Fighting Irish on Saturday, they will again be playing a highly ranked opponent. Yet this has been common for the squad, which has played six of the top-50 ranked teams in its first seven competitions of the 2012 season.
Overall, the Wolverines are still enthusiastic to play these challenging matches, but Coach Berque knows it will be a tough competition, and his team needs to be prepared.
“We have always had really close matches with Notre Dame,” Berque said. “It’s always a war. I think we are just going to need a full-team effort. It’s going to be a great match.”