March 19, 2013
The University of Michigan men's tennis team (6-6, 1-0 Big Ten) returns home this weekend to host a pair of Big Ten Conference duals at the Varsity Tennis Center. U-M will welcome Wisconsin (10-2, 1-0 Big Ten) at noon on Saturday (March 25) before closing the weekend on Sunday (March 26) with a noon match against Minnesota (4-7, 0-1 Big Ten).
This weekend'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 picked up his 102nd career singles victory with his 6-4, 6-3 decision over Michigan State's Aaron Pfister in U-M's Big Ten opener (March 14). With the victory, King tied Dan Brakus (1991-94) and David Kass (1989-92) for third place on Michigan's all-time singles wins list. King -- Michigan's lone senior -- is 11-1 in dual competition and 17-4 overall this season.
On March 6, senior Evan 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.
On March 13, senior Evan King collected his third Big Ten Athlete of the Week accolade of the season after putting together a 3-0 road trip. King has garnered Big Ten Athlete of the Week on nine occasions during his Wolverine career.
The Badgers enter the weekend with a 10-2 record on the season and are 1-0 in Big Ten play after a 4-3 win over Minnesota in the conference opener. Michigan owns a 73-9-1 advantage in the all-time series against Wisconsin and has won each of the last three matches, including last season's 5-2 victory in Madison.
Minnesota is 4-7 on the season and 0-1 in Big Ten play, but the Golden Gophers are coming off a 6-1 upset victory over 14th-ranked Washington in their last outing. Minnesota owns two nationally ranked singles players in No. 36 Rok Bonin and No. 102 Leandro Toledo. U-M owns a 51-30-2 record in the all-time series against Minnesota. Like on the football field, the Wolverines and the Gophers play for possession of the Little Brown Jug, which has been contested for since 2007. Minnesota currently owns possession of the trophy after claiming last season's meeting in Minneapolis, 4-3. The Gophers compete at Miami on Tuesday (March 19) before traveling to Ann Arbor.
Wisconsin and Minnesota will represent Michigan's 11th and 12th ranked opponents this season.
Senior Evan King clinched Michigan's first two wins of the season, while junior Barrett Franks has secured three U-M victories. 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, and on the road at LSU on March 17.
Michigan is listed as the No. 31-ranked team in the latest ITA national rankings, released last Tuesday (Feb. 26). King is listed at No. 15 in the fourth 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 eight of 12 dual matches this season, combining for a 16-10 doubles record. Senior Evan King and junior Shaun 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 5-3 when winning the doubles point this season and 1-3 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.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On what he wants to do when he graduates ... "I plan to play on the professional tour. I'm still figuring out where I'm going to live and train, but my goal is to be a professional tennis player. So once I graduate, I plan on training for the tour."
On why he chose to come to Michigan instead of going pro ... "I decided to go to Michigan because I thought the school matched me really well -- it was an opportunity to stay close to family, and I liked the coaching staff and the team. I thought college tennis was the best route for me personally to achieve my goals. Plus, I thought playing for Michigan would be a great experience -- and it has been."
On what sport he would try playing if he wasn't playing tennis ... "I think I would probably try to make it playing basketball. It was the only other sport I played growing up besides tennis. I'm not that big, so that could be a struggle, but I played point guard for about five years. I wasn't that great, but I was pretty quick."
On how he became a diehard Chicago Bears fan ... "Well growing up in Chicago it is kind of your only option. Chicago is such a sports-crazy city, so I grew up watching Bears games every week. My mom is from Philadelphia and is an Eagles fan. Since I always liked talking trash, I knew I had to pick another team, so naturally I picked the Bears. The funny thing is that I am the only diehard Chicago sports fan in my family."
On what this team is capable of ... "We are just getting into our Big Ten schedule, and we can still achieve the Big Ten championship, which is obviously our goal. We want to go into every match competing to the best of our ability and making sure that the work we put in every day in practice shows up on match day."
On being the only senior on the roster ... "It is kind of a weird dynamic, because when I first got here there were two freshmen, two sophomores and a couple juniors and seniors. Now it has completely flipped, and I am the only senior. Since I have been here the longest, I know what to expect from the grind of practice every day, so I try to lead by example."
On how he wants to improve his game ... "The part of my game I'm really working on right now is my serve. But overall, I'm just trying to be more aggressive on the court. Instead of relying on my speed, I am trying to take it to my opponents."
Friday, March 29 -- at Purdue (West Lafayette, Ind.), 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 31 -- at Indiana (Bloomington, Ind.), 1 p.m.