U-M Drops Marathon Match at No. 13 Ole Miss in NCAA Second Round
Alex Petrone

May 13, 2012

Notes & Quotes

Site: Oxford, Miss. (Gillom Sports Center)
Event: NCAA Championships (Second Round)
Score: #13 Mississippi 4, #21 Michigan 2
Records: U-M (18-8), Mississippi (15-8)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, May 23-28 -- at NCAA Individual Championships (Athens, Ga.)

OXFORD, Miss. -- The No. 21-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team fell just short in a marathon, seven-hour dual match against No. 13 Mississippi, losing, 4-2, in the second round of the NCAA Championships on Sunday evening (May 13) at the Rebels' Gillom Sports Center. U-M claimed the top two singles matches but dropped the doubles point and three singles contests, ending the team portion of its 2012 schedule.

After a lengthy rain delay -- only two games into doubles -- the dual was moved indoors, and with just three indoors courts available, the singles competition was essentially played in two halves. The Wolverines claimed two of the first three singles matches off court to even the score at 2-2, but Ole Miss claimed two wins in the bottom half of the lineup to seal the victory and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in three seasons.

Junior Evan King (Chicago, Ill./Kaplan Prep) and freshman Alex Petrone (Staten Island, N.Y./Laurel Springs Prep) earned Michigan's singles victories, defeating ranked opponents at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively.

Petrone put the first point on the board for the Wolverines, claiming a 6-4, 6-4 upset decision against No. 20-ranked Marcel Thiemann -- the biggest win of his collegiate career to date and fourth over a ranked opponent this season. He broke early in the first set, in the fifth game, and carried it through before rallying from a 4-1 deficit to take the second. He posted a 24-11 record in his rookie campaign and went 17-7 in dual matches -- 7-2 since moving up to the No. 2 position.

King extended his win streak to 17 straight matches with a 6-4, 6-3 decision against No. 14-ranked Nik Scholtz at No. 1. The Wolverine junior, ranked sixth nationally, broke to 4-3 to take control in both sets and closed out the match with another to even the dual score.

The score remained knotted at 2-2 for about 90 minutes as the bottom half of the lineup took the courts. Ole Miss retook the lead when No. 83-ranked William Kallberg defeated freshman Michael Zhu (Princeton, N.J./Keystone National HS), 6-4, 7-5, on the No. 4 court. Kallberg broke in the first game of the first set and rallied from two separate breaks to take the second.

With Michigan needing both of the remaining singles matches, sophomore Barrett Franks (Christchurch, New Zealand/Shirley Boys' School) forced a third set against Johan Backstrom at the No. 5 position, but the Rebel player surged to a quick and sizable lead to clinch the dual with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 decision.

Sophomore Alex Buzzi (Key Biscayne, Fla./Gulliver Prep) held a 7-5, 4-3 advantage on the No. 6 court when the match ended.

The Wolverines led on all three doubles courts, but Ole Miss rallied to turn two around, winning at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions to claim the dual's initial point. King and sophomore Shaun Bernstein (Plainview, N.Y./Old Bethpage JFK HS) led 5-2 on the former court before the 13th-ranked team of Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen broke to 6-6 and took the match's final four games to win 8-6. The Rebels' Marcel and Chris Thiemann, ranked 17th, wrapped up a 9-7 win moments later to clinch the point at the No. 2 doubles, similarly surging ahead late with the last three games.

Petrone and Zhu secured U-M's lone doubles win, cruising past Kallberg and Backstrom, 8-5, on the No. 3 court to finish the season with a solid 20-9 record.

Michigan concluded the 2012 season with an 18-8 record. King will represent the Wolverines in the NCAA Individual Championships, where he will be the No. 6 seed in the singles competition, starting Wednesday, May 23, in Athens, Ga.

Following are match-by-match results:

No. 1 -- No. 6 Evan King (U-M) d. No. 14 Nik Scholtz (Miss), 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 -- Alex Petrone (U-M) d. No. 20 Marcel Thiemann (Miss), 6-4, 6-4
No. 3 -- No. 45 Jonas Lutjen (Miss) d. Shaun Bernstein (U-M), 6-2, 6-2
No. 4 -- No. 83 William Kallberg (Miss) d. Michael Zhu (U-M), 6-4, 7-5
No. 5 -- Johan Backstrom (Miss) d. Barrett Franks (U-M), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
No. 6 -- Alex Buzzi (U-M) vs. Chris Thiemann (Miss), 7-5, 4-3 abandoned

No. 1 -- No. 13 Nik Scholtz/Jonas Lutjen (Miss) d. No. 29 Evan King/Shaun Bernstein (U-M), 8-6
No. 2 -- No. 17 Marcel Thiemann/Chris Thiemann (Miss) d. Barrett Franks/Alex Buzzi (U-M), 9-7
No. 3 -- Alex Petrone/Michael Zhu (U-M) d. William Kallberg/Johan Backstrom (Miss), 8-5

Order of Completion: Singles 3-2-1-4-5; Doubles 3-1-2

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423