After a positive beginning to their Big Ten season just one weekend ago, the men’s tennis team suffered a setback Saturday afternoon in San Diego. There, they ran into red hot No. 53 San Diego, who abruptly ended the No. 41 Wolverines’ dual win streak at four matches with a 5-2 victory on their home courts.
Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, overall 7-3) traveled out west during the week, after sweeping a weekend homestand against conference foes Northwestern and Wisconsin the previous weekend. The Wolverines dismissed Northwestern 6-1 and finished off the week with a 5-2 victory over Wisconsin. The victories left Michigan on top of the Big Ten standings and gave them a 2-0 conference mark for the first time in six years.
“The wins (last weekend) were very big for our confidence,” coach Bruce Berque said. “We played very well against Northwestern and then did a great job avoiding a letdown against Wisconsin the next day.”
Michigan could not keep the momentum going against San Diego (3-3). After waiting an extra day to play because of inclement weather, the two teams finally faced off Saturday afternoon. The match began in an untraditional fashion because of the threat of rain once again. Instead of having doubles play first, both teams began with their six singles matches on court.
The Toreros jumped out to an early lead, taking the fourth and fifth singles matches in straight sets. San Diego’s Robbie Blair defeated Michigan’s Ryan Heller at the No. 4 spot, 6-3, 6-2. Thomas Liverage also made short work of his Wolverine counterpart, beating Michigan’s Steve Peretz by a 6-2, 6-3 margin.
Brian Hung, one of the five Wolverines who suffered through sickness over the trip, kept Michigan in the match early. He battled both his flu-like symptoms and San Diego’s Mirza Koristovic at No. 3 singles, on his way to a 6-3, 6-2 victory, narrowing the Wolverines’ deficit to 2-1.
But Michigan couldn’t close the gap any further. After the Wolverines dropped first and second singles, San Diego clinched the win. At No. 1 singles, 100th-ranked Michael Rubin put up a tough fight against No. 8 Pierrick Ysern but eventually succumbed in two close sets, losing 6-3, 6-4. Matko Maravic’s hot streak was cooled by San Diego’s Nic Beuque. Beuque was able to pull off a 6-3, 7-5 win against the defending Big Ten Player of the Week at No. 2 singles.
David Anving secured Michigan’s second and final point of the day as he won a tight three set battle at No. 6 singles. Like Hung, Anving also battled illness, but overcame it, defeating Oscar Plotnik, 6-2, 4-6, 1-0(5).
The doubles point was taken by the Toreros as well, as they swept the three doubles matches, 8-5, 9-7, 8-5, respectively.
“I wasn’t disappointed with our effort (Saturday),” Berque said. “We competed well, and, considering the illnesses we had, I thought we had a decent showing.
“San Diego is a lot better than their record indicates, and they showed that (on Saturday).”
The Toreros are now on a three-match winning streak. Prior to knocking off Michigan, they defeated No. 29 Arizona 5-2. Although their 3-3 record is far from dominant, all three of their losses were to top tier teams early on.
The Wolverines now shift their focus to No. 34 Rice, who they battle today on the same courts they did on Saturday. The two teams will face off in their neutral-site dual at 9 a.m. PST before heading back home.