It didn’t take long for the No. 19 Michigan men’s tennis team to avenge last Tuesday’s loss to No. 5 Texas. The Wolverines rebounded four days later against another ranked opponent.
Michigan beat No. 17 Wake Forest, 4-3, at Leighton Tennis Stadium Saturday to gain its first road victory over a top-25 opponent in four years.
The Wolverines’ doubles game was solid as they took their eighth doubles point in nine matches this season. But their singles performances were the most impressive of the day.
Three of the bottom four singles players – sophomore Mike Sroczynski, junior Andrew Mazlin, and freshman Chris Madden – won their matches.
Michigan coach Bruce Berque said his team’s quick turnaround from Tuesday’s loss started the next day in practice.
“Even though they were a great team, we didn’t play our best tennis against Texas,” Berque said. “But we had some upbeat, positive practices in a short period of time.”
It wasn’t just the air of competitive spirit on the practice court last week that led to a win in Winston-Salem, N.C., this weekend. Berque said a more consistent mental approach to serving contributed to the victory as well.
As opposed to their match against Texas, the Wolverines used more precise spin serves, rather than trying to overpower Wake Forest (7-3) with speed. Michigan (7-2) also benefited from tenacious net play.
The adjustments were especially evident in Sroczynski’s busy day. Facing pressure as the first Wolverine singles competitor of the day, Sroczynski notched a two set victory (6-4, 6-2). He and freshman Jason Chung, the 29th-ranked doubles duo in the nation, won 8-6 to give Michigan a 2-0 lead in the match.
Although the Demon Deacons responded to tie the match 2-2 with wins at No. 1 and No. 5 singles, Mazlin won his match in comeback fashion (5-7, 6-4, 6-2).
Wake Forest persisted, tying the match again with a win in the No. 2 singles position. Madden then delivered the dagger with his two-set victory (6-3, 6-2). It was Madden’s first ever match-clinching win.
“We keep getting better,” Berque said of his singles players. “Even in the one and two spots that we lost, they were close three-set matches.”
As the Wolverines gear up for matches against non-ranked Ivy League opponents Harvard and Brown this week, they don’t appear to be relaxing.
Berque said national rankings at this point in the season don’t represent a team’s real talent because they are largely based on the previous year.
“Harvard is a better team now than they were last year, so we’ll have to prepare for that,” he said.
Michigan may not give much credence to the vote-based rankings, but having used their loss to Texas to regain focus, the Wolverines appear poised to continue ascending in the polls.