Despite a close scare, the Michigan men”s tennis team remained unbeaten on the year with victories this past weekend over Tulsa and Pennsylvania at the Varsity Tennis Center. For the second time this season, the Wolverines (5-0) did not lose a match as they trounced the Quakers 7-0 yesterday to complete the sweep.
But, the story of the weekend took place on Saturday against Tulsa. With both teams nearly identical in the national rankings (Michigan is No. 44 and Tulsa No. 47), Michigan edged the Golden Hurricane 4-3 in an epic battle that came down to the final match.
Freshman Matt Lockin outlasted Dustin Taylor 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (3) at No. 4 singles to emerge as the hero.
“It feels great to clinch the win for the team,” Lockin said. “All of my teammates congratulated me afterwards. I actually didn”t even know it was for the match, though, because coach (Mark Mees) didn”t even tell me, and he was so calm on the sidelines. I thought we already had won.”
After suffering a service break at 5-4 in the final set, Lockin stayed poised despite opposing entourages in the stands, who were screaming between every point.
“I love playing in front of a crowd,” Lockin said. “It”s great to have people cheering for you out there. I wasn”t distracted at all.”
Michigan jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against Tulsa by winning two of the three doubles matches to claim the point.
At the No. 2 spot, Lockin and senior Henry Beam took advantage of a late service break to gain a 9-7 victory over Taylor and Ryan Livesay. Senior Greg Novak and sophomore Anthony Jackson clinched the point at No. 3 with an 8-6 triumph over Pawel Sebastyanski and Alejandro Tejeirina.
Needing only a split in the six singles matches, Beam took little time to defeat Dane McGregor 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1.
“I felt like I was in control from the first point of the match,” Beam said. “I didn”t think that he could hurt me with anything he had. It was up to me to win or lose the match.”
At No. 3, after claiming the first set 6-4, Jackson overcame a rally by Livesay in the second to earn a tiebreaker win and prevent a final set.
“The tiebreaker was very big because I definitely did not want the match to go three sets,” Jackson said. “I was getting a little tired, and I might have been in trouble if it went three.”
Despite the dramatic victory, Mees was not particularly enamored with the Wolverines” play.
“I”m happy that we won and I liked the way we competed,” Mees said. “But to be truthful, we did not play as well as I think we”re capable of playing. I thought there were some matches where we had an opportunity to step on some people, but we let them back in. You can”t afford to do that against the good teams.”
Michigan will have this week to rest before facing Clemson and Alabama on Feb. 16-17 in its first road matches of the season.