Feb. 25, 2013
Wednesday, Feb. 27 -- vs. No. 19 Tulsa (Varsity Tennis Center), 7 p.m.
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The No. 21-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team (4-3) returns to Ann Arbor this Wednesday (Feb. 27) for a 7 p.m. matchup against No. 19-ranked Tulsa (5-5) inside the Varsity Tennis Center.
Football Autograph Session
Prior to Wednesday night's match, wide receiver Drew Dileo and cornerback Blake Countess of the Michigan football team will sign autographs from 6:30-7 p.m. at the Varsity Tennis Center.
This week's dual match will be for the best-of-seven team points. The dual will begin with three doubles matches consisting of eight-game pro sets. The team that wins two of these three matches will enter the singles competition with one of seven points. 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. The overall dual match will be decided when one team secures four total points. Matches in progress when the dual match is clinched will be played to completion.
Senior Evan King extended his singles winning streak to 10 matches with his 6-2, 6-7 (10), 6-2 victory over Notre Dame's 71st-ranked Greg Andrews on Feb. 16. King is 7-0 in dual competition and is 13-3 overall this season. He has faced ranked opponents in 10 of those 16 matches.
On Feb. 6, senior Evan King collected his second Big Ten Athlete of the Week accolade of the season after putting together a 4-0 weekend, which included a straight-sets upset win over Princeton's No. 2-ranked Matija Pecotic. The victory over Pecotic gave King a win over the highest ranked opponent of his collegiate career, eclipsing his three-set win against Illinois' No. 4-ranked Dennis Nevolo last April. On Jan. 9, King secured his first Big Ten Conference Athlete of the Week accolade of the season after winning the individual title at the Key Biscayne Individuals (Jan. 6-8).
This week's match will mark the eight meeting between Michigan and Tulsa. The Wolverines are 6-1 all-time against the Golden Hurricane, but Tulsa earned its lone victory over Michigan when the two programs last met, securing a 4-3 decision at the Varsity Tennis Center on March 11, 2011.
Tulsa enters the week at 5-5 after falling to No. 14 Texas A&M, 5-2, last Friday in College Station. The Golden Hurricane has won five of seven matches since starting the dual season 0-3, including two wins against Big Ten opponents. Tulsa secured a 4-2 victory at Illinois on Jan. 27 and earned a 4-3 home win over Minnesota on Feb. 1.
Tulsa will represent the Wolverines' sixth ranked opponent in eight matches.
Michigan is listed as the No. 23-ranked team in the latest ITA national rankings, released last Tuesday (Feb. 19). Winner of 10 consecutive matches, senior Evan King is listed at No. 16 in the third edition of the 2013 rankings, while sophomore Vlad Stefan comes in at No. 67. U-M's top doubles tandem of King and junior Shaun Bernstein are positioned at No. 14 in the latest doubles rankings, while the pairing of King and junior Alex Buzzi is ranked 30th.
Senior Evan King is tied with William Farah (1996-99) for sixth place on U-M's all-time singles win list with 98 wins. With one more win, he will move into a tie with Michael Leach (1979-82) at No. 5. King needs only two more wins to become only the fifth Wolverine in program history to post 100 career singles victories.
The Wolverines have claimed the doubles point in five of seven dual matches this season, combining for a 10-7 doubles record. Senior Evan King and junior Shaun Bernstein own a 5-1 mark at the No. 1 position, including an 8-4 decision over Princeton's 11th-ranked tandem of Zack McCourt and Matija Pecotic on Feb. 1. U-M is 4-1 when winning the doubles point this season and 0-2 when dropping the initial point.
Michigan is off to a 3-0 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 70-21 (.769) since the 2005 season and is 130-41 (.760) overall at the complex.
Head coach Bruce Berque is in his ninth year at the helm of the Wolverine program, compiling a 131-84 overall record and 57-24 Big Ten mark over his tenure. Berque has led the Wolverines to seven consecutive NCAA Championships berths, including the 2008 Sweet 16, and has finished among the top four of the Big Ten in seven of his eight previous seasons. Mark Merklein is in his second season as Michigan's assistant coach after joining the staff prior to the 2011-12 season. A former ATP tour professional (1994-2005) and NCAA singles (1994) and doubles (1993) champion while at Florida, Merklein spent the previous six years as a national coach with the USTA Player Development Center in Boca Raton, Fla.
Senior Evan King was recently a member of the American National Team that won the 2012 Master'U BNP Paribas Championship with a 5-2 victory against Germany on Sunday, Dec. 9. King was one of only six student-athletes selected to lead the United States in the competition. The U.S. won three matches over a five-day span to capture the title in the eight-team international competition. King finished last season with a career-best 34-7 record. He was named the 2012 Big Ten Athlete of the Year after posting a perfect 11-0 conference dual record from the No. 1 singles position.
In the Spotlight
On his favorite Michigan memory so far ... "My favorite Michigan memory so far is beating Illinois on the road last year, 4-3.I remember it was a really intense match on their outdoor courts. I played great that day and watching Evan (King) clinch the match was awesome. He was the last match on the court and I just remember the entire team running on the court and piling up on top of him after the win."
On what he learned from his freshman year ... "I learned that college level tennis is very intense and that the level of competition is pretty high. My freshman year also helped develop my doubles game. I always focused on singles as a junior player. When I came here, my volleys improved and I really learned how to play the game of doubles. I also learned about not just playing for myself, but for the team, which is pretty cool. I think I actually do better when I play for other people and for the team than just playing for myself."
On what Michigan means to him ... "Playing at Michigan to me means playing for your teammates, your school -- playing for something bigger than yourself. Playing for others really draws you in and makes you want to play your best. It is awesome to play here. It didn't take me long to learn about the tradition and history of all the programs here."
On playing in his first pro tournament over the summer ... "I played in two pro tournaments this summer with Shaun Bernstein as my doubles partner. It was a really fun experience and it helped me develop. I learned what professional tennis was all about and what I need to do to get to that level."
On what he has done to improve his game ... "I have been working hard at my baseline game, trying to get my ground strokes better and to move my feet better on the court. I'm always trying to improve my doubles play as well."
On playing doubles with Michael Zhu ... "We feel like we are a great team. We get along great and complement each other really well on the court. He is more of a power player who goes for big shots and I'm more conservative, so I try to set him up on the court. We feel like we basically own the No. 3 position right now."
On the best advice he has ever received from a coach ... "If you live for a strong purpose then hard work isn't an option, it is a necessity."
On his advice to future Wolverines ... "This is one of the best times in your life, so be positive about everything and enjoy every minute."
Wednesday, March 6 -- vs. Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.), 1 p.m. PST