March 11, 2013
The University of Michigan men's tennis team (4-6, 0-0 Big Ten) kicks off Big Ten Conference dual-match competition this week, traveling to East Lansing to face Michigan State (6-7, 0-0 Big Ten) at 6 p.m. on Thursday (March 14) before wrapping up non-conference play at LSU (5-6) at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday (March 17). LSU competes at Texas A&M Friday before hosting the Wolverines, who are listed No. 40 by the ITA.
This week's dual matches 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, Michigan's No. 1 singles player, is 10-0 in dual competition and is 16-3 overall this season. He has faced ranked opponents in 13 of those 19 matches. King extended his winning streak to 13 matches with his 6-4, 6-1 win over Texas' 50th-ranked Soren Hess-Olesen on March 9.
On March 6, King became only the fifth Wolverine in program history to post 100 career singles victories, accomplishing the feat by defeating Pepperdine's seventh-ranked Sebastian Fanselow, 6-2, 6-4, at the No. 1 singles position. The victory also marked King's second top-10 win of the season.
King stands alone in fourth place on U-M's all-time singles win list with 101 wins. With one more win, King will tie Dan Brakus (1991-94) and David Kass (1989-92) for third place with 102 victories.
On Feb. 6, 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).
The Spartans, who are 6-7 on the season, are coming off a 4-3 loss at Western Michigan last Friday (March 8). Aaron Pfister is the only ranked singles player for MSU coming in at No. 109 in the latest rankings. Michigan owns a 94-19 advantage in the all-time series against Michigan State and has won each of the last nine meetings overall.
Sunday's match at LSU marks Michigan's final non-conference match of the 2013 season. The Wolverines are currently 4-6 against non-conference foes. Michigan had a 7-4 non-conference record in 2012.
The Tigers are 5-6 on the season and 0-4 in the SEC. LSU does not have any ranked singles players, but team's top doubles tandem of Chris Simpson and Stefan Szacinski is ranked 41st in the latest doubles rankings. This weekend's match will mark the sixth meeting between Michigan and LSU, with the Tigers holding a 4-1 series advantage. U-M's lone victory over the Tigers came last season, when the Wolverines earned a 5-2 decision at the Varsity Tennis Center.
Michigan State (No.52) and LSU (No. 68) will represent Michigan's ninth and 10th ranked opponents this season.
King clinched Michigan's first two wins of the season, while junior Barrett Franks secured U-M's last two victories to date. King clinched the Wolverines' home opener against TCU on Jan. 19 and the squad's neutral-site win over Santa Clara on Jan. 25, while Franks secured victories against Princeton on Feb. 1 and Wake Forest on Feb. 3 at the VTC.
Michigan is listed as the No. 40-ranked team in the latest ITA national rankings, released last Tuesday (March 12). Winner of 11 consecutive matches, King is listed at No. 15 in the third edition of the 2013 ranking, while sophomore Vlad Stefan is 76th in the latest ITA singles rankings. U-M's top doubles tandem of King and junior Shaun Bernstein is No. 8 in the country, while the pairing of King and junior Alex Buzzi is ranked 37th.
The Wolverines have claimed the doubles point in seven of 10 dual matches this season, combining for a 15-9 doubles record. King and Bernstein own a 6-1 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 4-3 when winning the doubles point this season and 0-3 when dropping the initial point.
Michigan is off to a 3-1 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 70-22 (.761) since the 2005 season and is 130-42 (.756) overall at the complex.
On something most people do not already know about him ... "I am actually really into country music even though I am not from America. Toby Keith and Eric Church are two of my favorites to listen to, but right now I'd have to say my favorite song is 'Something to Be Proud Of' by Montgomery Gentry."
On how he started listening to country music ... "My girlfriend got me into it. She showed me the light, and now it is something I listen to when I'm studying or just trying to hang out and relax."
On what he thinks this year's team is capable of ... "We are a good team, probably the best team that I have been a part of here in my three seasons. I'm not just speaking on behalf of myself right now -- no one is giving up, and everyone knows how good we can be. As long as we keep that in mind, I don't think there is anything that should surprise us this year -- whether it is a Big Ten title or making it past the Sweet 16. That is what we are working for and the guys want it."
On what it means to him to be named a team captain ... "It is tough to put into words. Knowing the prestige of the school and what it means to even be an alum of Michigan, it means so much more to say that I captained a varsity sport at the University of Michigan."
On what it feels like to clinch a match for the Wolverines ... "It is pretty special, especially when it is a close match, and you know that the result comes down to your match. That is pretty special."
On what other sports he played growing up ... "I played soccer until I was 13, and I also was involved with track and field. Tennis has always been my best sport, but I was pretty good at soccer as well. But if I wasn't playing tennis for the Wolverines, I would like to be the starting quarterback for Michigan."
On his favorite meal ... "I'd have to go with fettuccine alfredo. When we have home matches we go to Macaroni Grill, and I get something along those lines."
On why he chose to come to Michigan ... "The school itself, the campus and the environment all made me chose Michigan; plus the prestige of going to the University of Michigan. The guys on the team and the level of commitment I saw from the coaches were also big factors."
On what he wants to do when he graduates ... "I'm studying economics right now, and I am hoping to go into investing or policy after I graduate."
On how he became a Green Bay Packers fan ... "The first game I ever saw years ago in New Zealand was a Packers/Bears game back in the Brett Favre era. It was a Packers victory, but what most people don't know is that if the outcome had gone the other way I could have been like Evan King and been a Bears fan."