Weekly #3: Wolverines to Compete at ITA Kick-Off
Tyler Gardiner

Jan. 21, 2014


Saturday, Jan. 25 -- vs. No. 11 Mississippi (Oxford, Miss.), 10 a.m. CST
Sunday, Jan. 26 -- vs. No. 22 Illinois or No. 23 Clemson (Oxford, Miss.), 10 a.m./1 p.m. CST

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The No. 26-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team (2-0) returns to the court for two matches at the Oxford, Miss., regional of ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The Wolverines will face No. 11 Mississippi on Saturday (Jan. 25) at 10 a.m. CST, and then either No. 22 Illinois or No. 23 Clemson on Sunday (Jan. 26) at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. CST.

ITA Kick-Off Weekend
The Oxford, Miss., regional will serve as a four-team tournament. Each team in the pod is ranked 1-4, with Mississippi getting the No. 1 seed due to hosting. Below is the playing schedule:

Saturday, Jan. 25
Match A: No. 1 seed Mississippi vs. No. 4 seed Michigan, 10 a.m.
Match B: No. 2 seed Clemson vs. No. 3 seed Illinois, 2 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 26
Loser Match A vs. Loser Match B - Consolation, 9 a.m.
Winner Match A vs. Winner Match B - Championship, 1 p.m.*

*Winner advances to ITA National Team Indoor Championships, to be held Feb. 14-17 in Houston, Texas.

About the ITA Kick-Off -- Fifteen schools will host a regional ITA Kick-Off Weekend event, based on the order of their year-end 2013 team ranking. The host school will meet the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed. The winners and losers will play the next day. The 15 schools that win both their matches at these events will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 14-17, which will be hosted by Texas A&M in Houston, Texas.

Last Year at the Kick-Off -- U-M split a pair of matches at last year's ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Berkeley, Calif., knocking off Santa Clara, 4-1, on Friday before falling to 14th-ranked California, 4-3, in the regional championship match on Saturday. After dropping the doubles point against the Golden Bears, the Wolverines won three of the first four singles matches to take a 3-2 lead, but Cal claimed both of the remaining matches in three sets to clinch the victory.

Dual-Match Format -- Each of this weekend's matches will be contests for the best-of-seven team points. Each dual will begin with three doubles matches consisting of six-game pro sets. The team that wins two of these three matches will enter the singles competition with one of seven points. Once the doubles point has been clinched, the remaining doubles match shall not be completed. No-add scoring will be implemented during doubles play and a tiebreaker will occur if a doubles match is tied at five-all. After a brief intermission, six singles matches will be played. Each singles match will be the best-of-three tie-break sets and worth one point towards the team competition. Each singles match will use no-ad scoring and a tiebreaker will occur if a set is tied at five-all. The overall dual match will be decided when one team secures four total points. Singles matches in progress when the dual match is clinched will be played to completion.

Last Time Out -- The Wolverines kicked off their 2014 campaign by notching a pair of victories last Saturday (Jan. 18). U-M opened the day by earning a 5-2 decision over Western Michigan at the Varsity Tennis Center then wrapped up the day-night doubleheader with a 6-1 home victory over Toledo. With last Saturday's win over the Broncos, Michigan improved to 10-0 in season openers under head coach Bruce Berque.

Scouting Mississippi -- The Rebels opened up their 2014 campaign last weekend at the MLK Invitational in Atlanta, Ga., squaring off in a round-robin tournament against No. 3 Georgia, No. 21 Memphis and Georgia Tech. Ole Miss returns four of their top six players from last year's team that finished the season ranked No. 10 in the country. Michigan is 0-2 all-time against the Rebels, including a 4-2 loss to Ole Miss in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships.

Scouting Clemson -- The Tigers are off to a 3-0 start this season despite having 10 new players on their roster, including eight freshmen. Clemson opened the season a 7-0 sweep of Furman on Saturday before knocking off Presbyterian College (6-1) and Gardner-Webb (7-0) on Sunday. The Wolverines and the Tigers have met on four previous occasions, splitting those encounters, 2-2. Michigan claimed the last match between the two programs, notching a 5-2 victory when the teams met on a neutral site at the University of Alabama's Hank Crisp Indoor Tennis Facility in 2002.

Scouting Illinois -- Big Ten foe Illinois makes its 2014 dual-match debut this weekend at the ITA Kick-Off. Last season, the Illini posted a 17-11 record, including an 8-2 mark in Big Ten play, reached the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and made their 19th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, falling in the second round to No. 16 Vanderbilt. Michigan owns a 64-33-2 advantage in the all-time series, and the Wolverines have won two of the last three encounters overall.

Wolverine To Watch -- Senior Barrett Franks, who was selected to the All-Big Ten second team last season after finishing the year with a career-best 17-7 dual-match record, is off to a hot start in 2014. The Christchurch, New Zealand, native was the only Wolverine to post a pair of singles wins last weekend, earning a 6-2, 6-5 (4) decision over Western Michigan's Pablo Mora and notching a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Toledo's Ryan Jorgensen. Franks won 11 of his last 12 singles matches to conclude the regular season in 2013, including one match from the No. 2 position and five from the No. 3 spot. In total, he posted a 9-1 mark in Big Ten singles action last season.

Point of Emphasis -- The Wolverines have earned the doubles point in each of their first two dual matches this season, combining for a 4-0 doubles record, including a 2-0 mark by juniors Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu at the No. 2 position. U-M claimed the doubles point in 14 of 26 dual matches last season, combining for a 29-27 doubles record. Michigan's ability to win the doubles point had a direct correlation to the team's overall record. Michigan was 10-4 in 2013 winning the doubles point and 6-6 when dropping the initial point.

In Their Debut -- Freshmen Tyler Gardiner and Kevin Wong both made their collegiate debuts during the fall individual season. Wong is 7-5 in singles competition, while Gardiner has posted a 2-4 mark through his first three singles matches for the Maize and Blue. Two other freshmen -- Davis Crocker and Alex Knight-- joined the team this semester, and both players and expected to redshirt this season.

The Captains -- At the conclusion of the fall season, seniors Shaun Bernstein and Barrett Franks and junior Alex Petrone were voted by their teammates to serve as team captains for the 2014 season. This marks the third consecutive season Bernstein has been voted a captain by his peers.

Future Wolverines -- Michigan inked two top prep players -- Runhao (Leo) Hua (Shanghai, China/Edison Academics) and Cameron Norrie (Auckland, New Zealand/Macleans College) -- to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period this fall. Hua holds a career-best International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior World Ranking of 138. Norrie has been ranked as high as No. 10 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior World Rankings and holds 12 ITF titles (five singles and seven doubles). Both players will join the Maize and Blue next fall.

A Look Back -- Michigan posted a 16-10 record in 2012-13, including a 9-2 mark in Big Ten play and qualified for the NCAA Championships for the eighth consecutive season. Senior Evan King, a three-time ITA All-American, ended his illustrious Michigan career with a 116-34 singles record and became U-M's all-time leader in combined singles and doubles wins with 195. The 2013 Big Ten Athlete of the Year award recipient, King finished his senior campaign with a 32-5 singles record, including a 23-1 mark in dual matches and a perfect 10-0 record in Big Ten play. King was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten first team, while Barrett Franks was an All-Big Ten second team selection

Coaching Staff -- Head coach Bruce Berque is in his 10th year at the helm of the Wolverine program, compiling a 145-91 overall record and 60-22 Big Ten mark over his tenure. Berque has led the Wolverines to eight consecutive NCAA Championships berths, including the 2008 Sweet 16, and has finished among the top four of the Big Ten in eight of nine seasons. Jeremy Wurtzman is in his first season as Michigan's associate head coach. A former ATP tour professional and a three-year standout at Ohio State, Wurtzman spent the last four years as the head coach of the University of Denver women's tennis program.

Sunday, Feb. 2 -- vs. North Carolina State (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon