March 18, 2014
Friday, March 21 -- at No. 2 Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio), 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 23 -- vs. No. 27 Penn State (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Sunday, March 23 -- vs. Youngstown State (Varsity Tennis Center), 5 p.m.
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The University of Michigan men's tennis team (8-5 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) will resume Big Ten dual play this weekend, traveling to No. 2 Ohio State (17-2, 1-0 Big Ten) at 6 p.m. on Friday (March 21) before hosting No. 27 Penn State (13-2, 0-1 Big Ten) at noon on Sunday (March 23) at the Varsity Tennis Center. Following the two conference encounters, the Wolverines will wrap up their weekend slate by hosting non-conference foe Youngstown State (3-9, 0-1 Horizon League) on Sunday night (5 p.m.) at the Varsity Tennis Center.
This weekend's dual matches will be for the best-of-seven team points. Each 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. Each 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.
U-M is coming off a 7-0 victory over Detroit last Saturday (March 15) at the VTC. The Wolverines cruised to victory in doubles play and won all six singles matches in straight sets to earn their eighth victory of the season.
Ohio State enters Friday night's match with a 17-2 record, with the only two losses coming at No. 1 Oklahoma (L, 4-1) and at No. 16 Georgia (L, 4-3). Michigan is 73-32-2 in the all-time series against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have claimed the last 14 meetings, including a 4-0 win when the teams met in the championship match of the Big Ten Tournament last April in Columbus.
The Nittany Lions are 13-2 on the season and carry a 0-1 Big Ten record after falling to Ohio State on March 2. With 13 wins, Penn State has registered its most non-conference wins since 1987, when the team won 14 non-conference matches. Michigan is 21-5 in the all-time series against Penn State and has won the last seven straight meetings, including 7-0 decision last season in State College.
Youngstown State enters Sunday night's dual with a 3-9 mark, including a 1-8 road record. Sunday's encounter will mark the first-ever meeting between the Wolverines and the Penguins.
Seven different Wolverine players have clinched U-M's eight dual wins this season: senior Barrett Franks has clinched two matches (Mississippi and Detroit), while freshman Kevin Wong (Western Michigan), junior Michael Zhu (Toledo), junior Alex Petrone (LSU), senior Shaun Bernstein (Vanderbilt), senior Alex Buzzi (Michigan State) and redshirt junior Justin Rossi has each clinched one match apiece.
Over its last six matches, Michigan has gone a combined 15-3 from the No.4 - No. 6 singles positions. Redshirt junior Justin Rossi (5-0) is undefeated during that span, while senior Barrett Franks owns a 4-1 record during that time period.
Junior Alex Petrone and redshirt junior Justin Rossi are tied for the team lead in dual-match singles wins with seven apiece. Rossi has not lost a match since Feb. 2, stringing together five consecutive victories since that date.
As has become tradition under the guidance of head coach Bruce Berque, Michigan has once again played a challenging schedule to start the season. Prior to this weekend's encounters with No. 2 Ohio State and No. 27 Penn State, the Wolverines have already squared off against eight ranked opponents: No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Mississippi, No. 13 Duke, No. 18 Vanderbilt, No. 22 Illinois, No. 24 Columbia, No. 30 LSU and No. 35 North Carolina State.
U-M has earned the doubles point in 10 of its first 13 matches this season, combining for a 19-9 doubles record, including a 9-0 mark by the 52nd-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 22nd-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 6-3 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 9-5 in singles and 15-4 in doubles. Wong and senior Shaun Bernstein are 12-1 this season and are No. 52 in the latest ITA Men's Doubles Rankings after recording nine straight victories to start dual-match play. Wong has also excelled in singles action and is 3-1 through four matches during the dual-match season.
After dropping his first dual-match of the season, junior Alex Petrone has won seven of his last 12 matches. For his efforts, he is now ranked for the first time this season, coming in at 112 in the latest ITA Men's Singles Rankings. All seven 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 an 11-10 record through 21 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 seven of his first 10 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.
Michigan is off to a 6-4 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 79-28 (.738) since the 2005 season and is 139-48 (.743) overall at the complex.
Freshman Tyler Gardiner made his collegiate dual-match debut last Saturday (March 15) against Detroit, cruising to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the Titans' Chance Conley at the No. 6 singles position. Gardiner, who made his collegiate debut this fall, has posted a 3-4 mark through his first seven singles matches for the Maize and Blue.
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.
Head coach Bruce Berque is in his 10th year at the helm of the Wolverine program, compiling a 151-96 overall record and 61-22 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.
Wednesday, March 26 -- at Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky), 4 p.m.
Saturday, March 29 -- vs. Iowa (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Sunday, March 30 -- vs. Nebraska (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
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