After a two-month layoff, the Michigan men’s tennis team is entering its dual match season with a group of players that will certainly be faced with a quick learning curve.
More than half of the team is comprised of underclassmen. As a result, senior co-captains Chris Rolf and Chris Shaya will have to lead by example throughout the year.
“There are no superstars on this team,” assistant coach Dan Goldberg said. “Everyone is going to have to pull their weight this year.”
Goldberg feels that sophomore Michael Rubin and junior Anthony Jackson are the strongest players on a team that may not be the most talented that Michigan has ever seen. But the coach feels that the Wolverines more than make up for this fact with their team chemistry and great work ethic.
During the Wolverines’ break following the fall season, the squad stayed in shape by working out with tennis professionals back home. Some also competed in the Milwaukee Tennis Classic last weekend. Jackson led the way, reaching the third round at the tournament.
Such hard work will be put to the test this weekend. Michigan faces Western Michigan and DePaul at home on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to open their dual match season.
“I think having two matches really gets you ready for the Big Ten season,” Goldberg said. “(Western Michigan) is always fiery and competes well, but both matches definitely pose a challenge.”
Getting off to a good start this weekend and setting a tone for the rest of the season is a big key to the success Michigan is hoping for this year.
But the coaching staff is not solely worried about how the team performs in the early part of the season. They are also looking for constant improvement and for the squad to peak in April, which is when it really counts.
“Everyone (on the team) is extremely coachable and works real hard,” Goldberg said. “I’m looking for improvement from everyone both physically and mentally.”
As far as the rest of the season, the Wolverines are aiming to finish in the upper echelon of the Big Ten and earn their fourth-straight NCAA Championships berth under coach Mark Mees.