After facing the nation’s No. 1 team last weekend, the road ahead does not get any easier for the Michigan men’s tennis team.
The Wolverines play Northwestern and Wisconsin at home this weekend and then travel to Evanston to participate in the Big Ten Championships the following week.
“Coming into the tournament, the players are excited,” assistant coach Dan Goldberg said. “They’re looking forward to it.”
Last Sunday, Michigan fell 6-1 to top-ranked Illinois. The match was a positive learning experience for the Wolverines, who were able to finally get used to playing outdoors after a long winter of indoor tennis.
“We adjusted a little bit better outside (against Illinois),” Michigan coach Mark Mees said. “You get a couple days under your belt, and then you adjust.”
But against Purdue the previous day, the Wolverines had substantial difficulty making the adjustment to play outside.
“Right across the board, we had some situations where the guys struggled with their timing outdoors,” Goldberg said.
Getting a handle on that timing will be crucial during the next two weeks of the season. Both of this weekend’s matches will be played outdoors, as will the Big Ten Championships, which begin April 24.
One of the things that will work in Michigan’s favor during the tournament is that the squad will not be dealing with the unknown.
“We have faced all of these teams before,” Goldberg said. “It boils down to peaking at the right time. There are no secrets; we know all of these players.”
In order to give themselves the best shot at being successful, Goldberg feels that the Wolverines need to improve several aspects of their game, including the team’s shaky doubles play.
The doubles lineup has been reshuffled several times in order to find a successful combination. The latest pairings feature junior Anthony Jackson and sophomore Josef Fischer at the top spot.
The coaches would also like to have the team firing on all cylinders in singles competition as well.
“When we’ve had success and done well, we have had six guys that have gone out and given us a chance to win at all six (singles) spots,” Mees said.
This weekend is an opportunity for Michigan to gain momentum and make final adjustments before the Big Ten championship.
“We haven’t done as much winning as we would have liked this year,” Goldberg said. “But the guys come back recharged, refocused and ready to go.”