With a win against then-No. 12 Texas two weeks ago, the Michigan men’s tennis team was confident it could play with the best. A victory over a mighty No. 4 Virginia squad on Saturday night could have proven the team was one of the nation’s best.

But the Wolverines were unable to seize the opportunity in Charlottesville, Va., losing 5-2.

Michigan had an early opportunity to take the doubles point as senior Ryan Heller and sophomore Andrew Mazlin took the first doubles match of the evening.

But facing a raucous crowd, the freshmen duo of George Navas and Mike Sroczynki couldn’t take advantage of three match points. They lost in a tiebreak (9-8 (9)).

The nation’s No. 2 tandem of senior Brian Hung and junior Matko Maravic matched up with No. 7 Somdev Devvarman and Treat Huey. Although Hung and Maravic defeated them in October en route to the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Championships final, Devvarman and Huey got their revenge in a tiebreak, 9-8 (2).

For the first time this season, Michigan (6-1) was unable to claim the first point of the match. And with the Virginia marching band on hand at the Boar’s Head Sports Club, the Wolverines never grabbed the momentum back, dropping three of six singles matches in straight sets. Despite the loss, Michigan was always persistent, going after every point.

“I was extremely proud of the team and how we competed,” Maravic said. “Everyone came to Virginia ready, believing we can beat this team although they’re ranked so high, and we lost 5-2. But definitely key matches could have gone either way. Doubles could have been either way. George (Navas) lost a very tight match. Things could have gone our way. But Virginia played better at crucial points of the match.”

Facing last year’s NCAA runner-up Devvarman, No. 44 Maravic held his own in the first set, but couldn’t convert chances in the second set. Maravic fell 6-4, 6-1.

“Virginia was just a little better at most of the spots, and they’re a better team than us right now,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “Overall, I don’t think our team played its best tonight. We did compete well, but there definitely is room for improvement. Our guys are disappointed, but they gained some confidence realizing that they’re within striking distance of becoming a great team.”

Some of that confidence came the day before, when the Wolverines clobbered William and Mary, 6-1. After edging the Tribe 4-3 last season, the Wolverines improved to its best start in Berque’s tenure.

But Mazlin still left Williamsburg, Va., disappointed. Knowing he should have completed the sweep against William and Mary, Mazlin took his “grudge” out on the Cavaliers (6-0), winning his singles match in straight sets.

He and Heller were the only two to escape Virginia without a loss. Heller ended the weekend victorious in all four of his matches. As a doubles team, Heller and Mazlin will take their five-match win streak into Northwestern.

Despite its first setback of the season against the Cavaliers, Michigan knows it has had a very successful start. With a team that is “tight-knit” and “going to war for each other,” according to Heller, a few more lessons will give the Wolverines the potential to take down the elite teams.

“Opportunities like this are tough to get over,” Mazlin said. “But we know it’s early in the season, and we learn from these losses, these tough road losses. We learn playing teams just as highly ranked at home and on the road. So we just take this as a step forward and as looking forward as to what to expect on future matches. “

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