With the match deadlocked at 3-3, Chris Madden was the lone Michigan men’s tennis player left on the court. He had the result of the match resting firmly upon his shoulders, needing to pull out a tough third set to lead the Wolverines over Notre Dame.

Under the eyes of a large and boisterous crowd, the junior didn’t disappoint. Madden upset Blas Moros at No. 5 singles, 6-3, 3-6 and 6-2. The win improved Michigan’s dual-match record to 3-3.

“The crowd was awesome tonight,” Madden said. “I haven’t had that much student support since I’ve been here. We really appreciated it.”

Madden made a point to praise the efforts of the rest of his teammates, most notably senior Mike Sroczynski, for keeping a good portion of the pressure off of him until the final moments of his match. Despite losing 6-6, 3-6, and 6-3, Sroczynski extended his match for as long as possible.

“The fact that Mike was fighting that whole time and he was still on that court made it a lot easier for me to break at 4-2,” Madden said. “When you’re the only one on there, you get a lot of pressure mounting on you, but when you’ve got one other person on the court it really helps.”

Madden is not a stranger to playing in a decisive match. In the opening contest of the year, he clinched a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt.

“He’s done that several times in his career under pressure,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “He’s been reinforced with some wins under pressure and that obviously builds confidence. There aren’t too many people you’d prefer to see out there.”

The Wolverines also benefited from a dominant performance in doubles, getting the point by virtue of 8-3 wins by the tandems of Jason Jung and Evan King, and Chris Cha and Madden. They also received an 8-4 victory by George Navas and Sroczynski.

The doubles matches were completed in less than an hour and never were in doubt, giving the Wolverines a strong edge in momentum going into the singles matches.

But the 35th-ranked Fighting Irish played tough in singles, splitting the six matches. At No. 1 singles, Notre Dame’s Casey Watt defeated Michigan’s top player, Jason Jung, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Jung fought back from a 5-2 deficit in the second set and forced a tiebreaker, but he couldn’t prevail.

At the second singles spot, freshman Evan King defeated the Fighting Irish’s Stephen Havens. The Wolverines’ other singles win came from senior co-captain George Navas, who routed Notre Dame’s Niall Fitzgerald, 6-1, 6-0.

“It was a good effort by all six guys today,” Navas said. “I bet their coach is over there saying that they had a great effort on five out of six courts, and that one court might have been the difference. So that’s what we needed today and we got it.”

Berque called the victory the Wolverines’ biggest of the year, a huge momentum boost before they host No. 21 North Carolina next Saturday.

“When you’re playing teams that are so consistently evenly matched with you, you just can’t afford to have a soft spot competitively,” Berque said. “We did not have that tonight. You’d be surprised at how big of a difference that makes because you figure, well, you’re losing anyway what difference does it make, but the energy that feeds from one player to the next on the adjacent courts really makes a big difference.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.