For the fifth consecutive year, the Michigan men’s tennis
team dropped its first two Big Ten matches of the season.

The No. 42 Wolverines limped into Columbus yesterday, losing to
No.18 Ohio State 5-2, after falling to No. 56 Penn State on
Saturday, 4-3.

Michigan (0-2 Big Ten, 8-4 overall) played poorly to begin both
contests, losing all six doubles matches.

“When you play good teams that have good singles players,
that doubles point is critical,” Michigan coach Mark Mees
said. “We just played really lousy doubles (Saturday). That
was by far the worst performance in doubles — probably our
worst performance of any of the matches we played this
year.”

After losing the doubles point, Michigan’s Ryan Heller
ended his two-match losing streak with a win over Ohio
State’s Devin Mullings, 6-1, 6-1. With the match tied 1-1,
Ohio State (3-0, 12-3) bounced back, taking the No. 1 and No. 2
singles matches in straight sets. Michigan’s Steve Peretz
dominated the Buckeyes’ Ross Wilson at No. 6 singles, 6-0,
6-4, narrowing the Ohio State lead to 3-2. The Buckeyes cruised to
straight-set victories at the No. 3 and No. 5 singles positions and
clinched their 12th consecutive victory at the Jesse Owens West
Recreation Center.

“We had a couple of positions where we played very well,
and then we had a number of positions where we struggled a
little,” Mees said. “Against a team the caliber of Ohio
State, you’ve got to be able to put together a consistent
effort in all nine spots. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to
do that.”

The Wolverines have lost three consecutive matches — all
to ranked opponents — after starting the season 8-1.

Mees has had to shuffle his team’s lineup lately due to
lingering injuries. Michigan’s No. 1 singles player Michael
Rubin has been suffering from rib and shoulder injuries. Rubin
missed three consecutive matches but played through the pain over
the weekend.

“Hopefully these two matches this weekend will get him
back on track,” Mees said. “A lot of people are dinged
up, but that’s not an excuse. We just have to be able to
overcome these things.”

The Wolverines couldn’t overcome a late-match charge by
Penn State’s No. 1 player, Malcolm Scatliffe, on
Saturday.

The reigning Big Ten Player of the Week clinched Penn
State’s upset victory over Michigan, defeating Rubin 3-6,
6-1, 6-2.

Playing outdoors for the first time since their Spring Break,
the Wolverines played one of their poorest matches of the season
against the Nittany Lions (1-1, 10-4).

“We really did not play well in that match,” Mees
said. “It was very disappointing, and we came out and never
got anything going. That was very frustrating. I look back on that,
and I really felt that was a match that we should have
won.”

Despite the 4-3 loss, the Wolverines played strong at the No. 2,
No. 3 and No. 5 singles positions. Michigan’s Anthony Jackson
was solid against Penn State’s Roddy Cantey, winning 6-2,
6-1, ending his six-match losing streak. Brian Hung and David
Anving both won thrilling three-set matches for the Wolverines.

“We just didn’t play well enough across the
board,” Mees said about the weekend. “ One of the most
important things is to be able to play nine matches out there
pretty well. “We’ve got to get back to doing
that.”

The Wolverines have little time to recuperate from injuries and
match fatigue. They play rival Michigan State at the Varsity Tennis
Center on Wednesday night.

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