With conference play coming to an end, Big Ten Tournament seeds were on the line for the Michigan men’s tennis team in its weekend matches against Illinois and Indiana. A weekend sweep could have given the team second place in the conference, and two losses could have dropped it to fourth.
Instead, the Wolverines split the weekend, losing 5-2 at Illinois on Friday and winning 5-2 at Indiana on Saturday. Michigan finished Big Ten play with an 8-2 record, clinching third place in the conference.
The weekend began with the Wolverines having to travel to Champaign to face the 14th-ranked Fighting Illini.
Illinois got off to a fast start, taking the first two doubles matches to get the first point. The Fighting Illini kept that momentum, steamrolling the Wolverines to win the first four singles matches and clinching the contest for the home side.
But the Wolverines did play for pride, as juniors Jason Jung and Chris Madden both overcame losses in the first set to win their respective matches.
The Wolverines then traveled to Indiana with the No. 3 seed on the line. But again the Wolverines started slow, dropping the first two doubles matches to lose the first point for the second match in a row.
“They played better than us,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “They competed better than us. We were definitely disappointed. We were capable of more with both our tennis and our competitiveness.”
But this time the team bounced back to take the first two singles matches. Madden won 6-2, 6-3 in straight sets and freshman Chris Cha broke his seven-match losing streak, persevering through a first set tiebreaker to win the second set and collect the go-ahead point.
Indiana tied the score up as senior Mike Sroczynski fell in straight sets, but that would be Indiana’s last victory. Jung played up to his No. 33 national ranking, winning in No. 1 singles 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Freshman Evan King won the match for the Wolverines. After splitting the first two sets, King clinched the victory in a third set tiebreaker. Senior George Navas put the icing on the victory with his concluding three-set win.
“It was tight,” Berque said. “We did a good job of handling the pressure, competing well, and playing more aggressively today.”