Jan. 28, 2014
The No. 26 University of Michigan men's tennis team (3-1) returns home on Sunday (Feb. 2), hosting No. 35 North Carolina State at noon at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Wolfpack will represent U-M's third straight ranked opponent.
Sunday's match will be broadcast live by Radio Tennis and will feature interviews and play-by-play of singles and doubles action.
Scouting North Carolina State -- The Wolfpack (3-1) are coming off their third shutout victory of the 2014 dual season, a 4-0 win over No. 49 Michigan State last Sunday (Jan. 26) in the consolation match of the Knoxville Regional of ITA Kick-Off Weekend. North Carolina State also owns a pair of 7-0 victories over UNC Greensboro and North Carolina Central. The team's lone loss came vs. No. 30 VCU, a 4-3 decision in first-round action at the ITA Kick-Off last Saturday (Jan. 25). The Wolfpack feature four ranked singles players, including No. 50 Austin Powell, No. 76 Robbie Mudge , No. 82 Thomas Weigel and No. 83 Nick Horton. NC State also fields a deep doubles lineup, paced by the 19th-ranked duo of Horton and Sean Weber.
This weekend's match will mark the fourth meeting between Michigan and North Carolina State. The Wolfpack own a 2-1 advantage in the series, including a 4-3 victory when the two programs last met in 2010. U-M's lone victory in the series was a 6-1 victory over N.C. State at the Varsity Tennis in 2008.
Last Time Out -- U-M split a pair of matches last weekend at the ITA Kick-Off in Oxford, Miss., upsetting 10th-ranked Mississippi, 4-3, on Saturday (Jan. 25) before falling to 22nd-ranked Illinois, 4-2, in the regional championship match on Sunday (Jan. 26). Senior Barrett Franks clinched the victory over the Rebels, delivering a 6-5 (6), 6-5 (1) victory over Vinod Gowda at the No. 5 singles position in the final match on the court. In Sunday's hard fought loss to the Illini, Franks and fellow senior Alex Buzzi teamed up to post an impressive doubles victory, knocking off the fourth-ranked tandem of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon, 6-3, at the top of the doubles lineup.
Dual-Match Format -- Sunday's match will be contests for the best-of-seven team points. The 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 tie-breaker 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 tie-breaker 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.
Wolverine To Watch -- Senior Barrett Franks, who was selected to the All-Big Ten second team last season after finishing with a career-best 17-7 dual-match record, is off to a hot start in 2014. The Christchurch, New Zealand, native is 3-0 in singles action after posting a 6-5 (5), 6-5 (1) victory over Mississippi's Vinod Gowda in last Saturday's win over the 10th-ranked Rebels. 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 four dual matches this season, combining for a 8-1 doubles record, including 3-0 marks by the duo of seniors Barrett Franks and Alex Buzzi at the No. 1 position and the tandem of senior Shaun Bernstein and freshman Kevin Wong at the No. 3 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 has 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. The Wolverines are 3-1 this season when claiming the doubles point.
Finding Their Groove -- Juniors Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu are a combined 5-0 in singles action to start the 2014 campaign. After dropping his first match of the season, Petrone has won three straight matches, including two from the No. 2 position. He posted his first ranked victory of the season last Saturday (Jan. 25), downing Mississippi's 104th-ranked William Kallberg in straight sets (6-3, 6-2). Zhu has won three consecutive singles matches dating back to the Key Biscayne Invitational, including dual wins over Toledo's Garret Cona (6-2, 6-1) and Mississippi's Zach Wilder (6-2, 6-2).
Home-Court Advantage -- Michigan is off to a 2-0 start at the Varsity Tennis Center this season. The Wolverines have been tough to beat at the VTC since the facility opened in 1997. Michigan is 75-24 (.758) since the 2005 season and is 135-44 (.754) overall at the complex.
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 146-92 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.
Friday, Feb. 7 -- vs. Texas (Varsity Tennis Center), 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 9 -- vs. Duke (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon