Feb. 25, 2014
Wolverines Ready for Big Ten Opener
Evan King Alumni Spotlight
Friday, Feb. 28 -- vs. Michigan State (Varsity Tennis Center), 6 p.m.
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The No. 26-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team (5-4, 0-0 Big Ten) wraps up its season-long six-match homestand on Friday (Feb. 28), hosting in-state rival Michigan State (5-5, 0-0 Big Ten) in the team's Big Ten opener at the Varsity Tennis Center. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
Friday'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.
The Wolverines enter conference play on a two-match win streak after downing No. 30 LSU (W, 5-2) and No. 18 Vanderbilt (W, 5-2) last Friday and Sunday, respectively, at the VTC.
U-M owns a 95-19 advantage in the all-time series against Michigan State and has won each of the last 10 meetings overall. Last season, the Wolverines earned a narrow 4-3 victory over the Spartans inside the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility. Vlad Stefan clinched the dual in the final match on the court, posting a three-set victory over Michigan State's Drew Lied at the No. 2 singles position.
The Spartans will mark U-M's eight-straight ranked opponent. Over the first month of the season, the Maize and Blue have already squared off against No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Mississippi, No. 13 Duke, No. 18 Vanderbilt, No. 22 Illinois, No. 30 LSU and No. 35 North Carolina State.
Michigan has earned the doubles point in seven of their first nine matches this season, combining for a 14-7 doubles record, including a 6-0 mark by the 58th-ranked tandem of senior Shaun Bernstein and freshman Kevin Wong, who have played at both the No. 2 and No. 3 positions this season. The 17th-ranked tandem of seniors Barrett Franks and Alex Buzzi make up U-M's No. 1 doubles team. The senior duo won their first five doubles matches to start the 2014 campaign, including three straight victories over top-20 ranked opponents. The Wolverines are 4-3 this season when claiming the doubles point.
Freshman Kevin Wong represented his native country of Hong Kong at the 2014 Davis Cup (Feb. 14-16) in Phuket, Thailand. Competing in Group II of the Asia/Oceania Zone, Hong Kong fell to Thailand, 4-1, in first round action at the Thanyapura Sports & Leisure Club. Wong teamed with former Duke four-time All-American Phillip King in the tournament's doubles competition. Wong is off to a strong start to his collegiate career, holding overall marks of 8-6 in singles and 10-4 in doubles. Wong and senior Shaun Bernstein are 8-1 this season and are No. 55 in the latest ITA Men's Doubles Rankings after recording five straight victories to start dual-match play. Wong has also excelled in singles action and is 2-0 from the No. 6 singles through the first month of dual-match competition.
After dropping his first dual-match of the season, junior Alex Petrone has won five of his last eight matches. For his efforts, he is now ranked for the first time this season, coming in at 113 in the latest ITA Men's Singles Rankings. All five of Petrone's victories have come from the No. 2 singles position, and two of those triumphs have come against ranked opponents -- straight-set wins over North Carolina State's 82nd-ranked Thomas Weigel (6-2, 4-6, 6-3 ) and Mississippi's 104th-ranked William Kallberg (6-3, 6-2). Petrone, who posted a 13-18 overall record last season, holds a 9-9 record through 18 matches during the 2013-14 campaign.
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 strong start to his final season with the Maize and Blue, winning five of his first eight singles matches to begin the dual-match season. The Christchurch, New Zealand 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.
U-M went undefeated at the No. 3 - No. 6 singles positions last weekend. Seniors Shaun Bernstein, Barrett Franks and Alex Buzzi and redshirt junior Justin Rossi each went 2-0 in singles competition against No. 30 LSU and No. 18 Vanderbilt, respectively. Bernstein, who went a combined 3-0 in singles and doubles last weekend, clinched the victory over the Commodores by delivering a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over 82nd-ranked Rhys Johnson at the No. 3 singles position.
Michigan is off to a 4-3 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 77-27 (.740) since the 2005 season and is 137-47 (.745) overall at the complex.
Freshmen Tyler Gardiner and Kevin Wong both made their collegiate debuts during the fall individual season. Wong is 8-6 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.
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.
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.
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.
Head coach Bruce Berque is in his 10th year at the helm of the Wolverine program, compiling a 148-95 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.
Thursday, March 6 -- at Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii), 2 p.m. HST