There”s no place like home.
That phrase was certainly ringing through the heads of the players on the Michigan men”s tennis team after its weekend trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Competing in its first matches away of the season away from the Varsity Tennis Center, Michigan (6-1) beat Clemson 5-2 on Saturday afternoon but suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Alabama yesterday.
Facing its most formidable opponent so far this season, No. 45 Michigan pushed No. 26 Alabama down to the last match. At No. 6 singles, David Anving put up a valiant effort but ultimately fell short, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (3) to Michael Ray Pallares.
“David will learn a lot from that match,” Michigan coach Mark Mees said. “He got a little nervous at the end, and he”ll be the first to admit that.”
Michigan gained the early momentum by claiming the doubles point, which it has done in all seven of its matches this season.
But the Wolverines were unable to capitalize on their fast start, as they garnered just two singles victories. At the No. 1 spot, Henry Beam, ranked No. 60 in the nation, earned an impressive 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Max Belski, ranked No. 36. The only other victory came from Matt Lockin, who remained unbeaten on the year with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 triumph over Nick Beuque.
Against the Tigers, the Wolverines received solid play from the upper echelon of their lineup. Michigan posted victories in the top four singles contests as well as the first two doubles spots.
“Clemson always has a very good program,” Mees said. “Once again we were able to get the early doubles point, and then I thought our singles players did a good job of closing out the match.”
After Chris Rolf and Chris Shaya dispatched the Tigers” Marko Gojanovic and Nathan Thompson 8-5 at No. 1 doubles, Beam and Lockin clinched the point for Michigan with a 9-8 (4) win over Micah Thompson and Sanders Koning at No. 2.
Sitting on a 1-0 advantage, the Wolverines quickly closed out the match in singles with three impressive straight-set victories. At the No. 1 spot, Beam breezed past Gojanovic 6-4, 6-3. Despite a tough second set, Ben Cox emerged with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Jamin Thompson at No. 2. Lockin secured the team victory at No. 4 with a swift 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Goran Sterijowski.
Michigan will start its Big Ten season at home next weekend when it faces No. 2 Illinois and Northwestern. Despite the team”s impressive nonconference record, Mees knows that the Big Ten is a different story.
“We are starting right off the bat with two exceptional teams,” he said. “Facing Illinois, it doesn”t get much tougher than that, and then we have to go right back out the next day and play a very good Northwestern team, which had a great nonconference record.”