Facing No. 12 Texas on its first-ever “Maize Out,” the Michigan men’s tennis is hungry to avenge their 5-2 loss last year in Austin.
But payback is just the beginning. In eight seasons, the Wolverines have gone 0-20 against top 15 teams and 1-27 versus top 25 teams. A win on Saturday might put No. 32 Michigan over the edge.
“We have a good, disciplined team,” Michigan Coach Bruce Berque said. “We’ve trained hard and I think our talent level is significantly greater than it was last year and in recent years. That’s why a lot of our guys are approaching this match with so much hunger . We feel like we belong with the other teams and we have to prove it.”
Although Texas has a higher ranking, the Wolverines have the advantage on paper. With junior Matko Maravic and senior Brian Hung ranked much higher than the Longhorns in both doubles and singles, it would seem Michigan has two automatic points.
But as Maravic and Hung learned last Saturday, no match can be taken for granted.
Up 5-2 against an unranked Butler team, the 2nd-ranked duo barely squeaked out the win 9-8(2).
“Ranked No. 2 in the country, there are going to be a lot of team that are not as strong as us,” Hung said. “But the lesson I’ve learned is not to take anybody lightly, even if the guys ranked one, top five or top 10, and to treat each opponent in each match the same.”
Michigan already has a taste of what Texas will bring up to Ann Arbor. Playing the Longhorns just two weeks ago in the Miami Invitational, the Wolverines pulled out three out of four doubles matches. Despite capturing the majority, Berque will be forming a lineup against a deep Texas squad coming from a berth in last year’s final four.
But from experiences dating back to last year, the Wolverines believe they can beat some of the nation’s best.
“Last year (at the Miami Invitational) was an important trip for us,” senior Steven Peretz said.
“We got beat. If you looked up the definition of beat, you’d see Michigan tennis on the Miami trip last year. It was a great learning experience and we played Texas later in the year, we gave them a great scare. We had the opportunity to beat them.
“This year, we went (to Miami) with more experience and more veterans. Coming out winning a majority of matches, pretty much everyone is going in with more experience and (ready to) give a good match. I think we all feel confident and excited, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
With the tennis team looking to put itself among the best and a Maize Out in full effect, only Peretz can describe Saturday’s scene: