Can an attitude off the court really make an impact on a
player’s performance in the middle of a match?

Many members of the Michigan men’s tennis team have
noticed a huge improvement in team chemistry that has greatly
factored into the team’s unblemished record so far this
season.

As the lone senior on the team this season, Anthony Jackson has
noticed a significant change in the team’s attitude over the
past two years. Not only has the level of talent on the team risen,
but the dedication of individual players has also improved along
with it.

“It makes it easier to go to practice and work
hard,” Jackson said. “You want to do well when you are
surrounded by great players who are competitive as well as your
friends.”

At this time last year, the Wolverines had already experienced
three loses. Currently boasting a 4-0 mark, the team has
experienced a boost in player confidence and energy.

“It’s a completely different atmosphere than last
year,” junior Vinny Gossain said.

“Everyone is starting to get that mentality where you are
expected to win, as opposed to just trying to hang in the
matches.”

Gossain, who plays doubles with freshman Steve Peretz, explained
that each player must be confident that they can secure a win for
the team to take pressure off of the players who are always
expected to win.

Two weeks ago, the Wolverines upset Wake Forest — who was
nationally ranked No. 33 at the time — by the score of 6-1.
Surprisingly, the match’s one loss came from Michigan’s
top ranked player and co-captain, junior Michael Rubin. Gossain
implied that Rubin’s loss might have actually been an asset
for the team.

“We are used to relying on Michael,” Gossain said.
“If Michael doesn’t have a good day, or if he knows
that he has five guys behind him who are confident they can win, it
is less of a burden for him to win.”

The supportive and encouraging attitude of the older players
provides an important base of team unity for the younger players.
The coaches expect quality performances from freshmen Brian Hung,
Ryan Heller and Peretz, while the older players would like to see
this trio contribute more to the team’s bonding
experiences.

All three freshmen are undefeated in dual-match singles play,
and have worked hard to integrate themselves into the rest of the
team.

Gossain has told the freshmen that “we all love to win
matches and be successful, (but) at the end of your college career,
many of the memorable moments with the team occur off the
court.”

The Wolverines return to the hardcourt after two weeks off. They
will face Toledo this Saturday for their fifth straight home match
of the season. Even though Michigan has won its past thirteen
encounters versus the Rockets, players’ work ethic in
practice has not let up and the team seems to be as diligent as
ever.

Many players are approaching benchmark numbers in wins this
weekend. Jackson has the possibility of reaching his 40th
dual-match singles win, while Gossain and both Rubin brothers are
each one game shy of securing 20 wins, respectively (this would be
Gossain’s 20th doubles career win, Carey Rubin’s 20th
singles career win and Michael Rubin’s 20th dual-match
singles win).

However, the players view all of these possibilities as
meaningless distractions.

“I try and stay away from statistics,” Jackson said.
“I don’t like to focus on how many wins I have or who I
have beaten.”

If the Wolverines could change one thing about how the season is
going, players said they would just like to see more fans at the
matches.

“Since the tennis center is far from campus, and buses
don’t run, it’s hard for the freshmen to bring the
groupies from the dorms to the matches,” Gossain said.

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