April 9, 2013
The No. 24-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team (11-7, 6-1 Big Ten) heads back out on the road for a pair of conference matches this weekend. The Wolverines square off with Nebraska (10-9, 2-5 Big Ten) on Friday (April 12) at 4 p.m. in Lincoln, Neb., before wrapping up the weekend slate at Iowa (7-12, 0-7 Big Ten) at 11 a.m. in Iowa City, Iowa.
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 owns the U-M program record for most combined career singles and doubles wins. After two more victories last weekend, King upped his career total to 185 wins (108 singles, 77 doubles). Prior to this season, Peter Pusztai previously owned the school record for most combined victories with 180 career triumphs (115 singles, 65 doubles) from 1993-96.
Senior Evan King picked up his 108th career singles victory with his 6-4, 7-6 (4) decision over Northwestern's Spencer Wolf on April 7. King, who ranks third on U-M's all-time singles wins list, is 17-1 in dual-match competition and 23-4 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 honors on nine occasions during his Wolverine career.
Junior Barrett Franks has won nine consecutive matches -- including four in a row from the No. 3 spot -- and is 15-2 in dual-match competition. He trails only senior Evan King in dual wins this season.
Junior Alex Buzzi has strung together a four straight singles wins and is 6-1 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska enters the weekend with a 10-9 record on the season and a 2-5 mark in Big Ten play. The Cornhuskers went 1-2 last week, earning a home victory over Iowa before losing back-to-back road matches at Purdue (April 5) and at Indiana (April 7). Michigan is 2-0 in the all-time series against Nebraska after winning last season's meeting, 4-3, in Ann Arbor.
With two weeks left in the regular season, Iowa is still searching for its first Big Ten win. The Hawkeyes are 7-12 overall but 0-7 in conference play after dropping three road matches last week, including a 6-1 loss at Purdue last Sunday (April 7). The Wolverines are 47-8 in the all-time series against Iowa and have won the last three meetings, including a 6-1 decision last year at the Varsity Tennis Center.
Michigan is listed as the No. 24-ranked team in the latest ITA national rankings, released on Tuesday (April 8). King is listed at No. 13 in the sixth edition of the 2013 ranking, while sophomore Vlad Stefan is 107th in the latest ITA singles rankings. U-M's top doubles tandem of King and junior Shaun Bernstein is No. 23 in the country, while the pairing of King and junior Alex Buzzi is ranked 37th.
Senior Evan King has clinched three of Michigan's wins this season, while junior Barrett Franks has secured four U-M victories. King clinched the Wolverines' home opener against TCU (Jan. 19), the squad's neutral-site win over Santa Clara (Jan. 25) and U-M's home triumph over Northwestern (April 7). Franks has secured victories against Princeton (Feb. 1) and Wake Forest (Feb. 3) at the VTC, and on the road at LSU (March 17) and at Purdue (March 29). Junior Alex Buzzi up his second dual-clinching victory of the season last Saturday against Illinois (April 6), earning a 6-3, 6-4 decision over Alex Jesse at the No. 6 position. Junior Shaun Bernstein clinched the winning point for the Wolverines against Indiana (March 31) with a come-from-behind win at the No. 6 singles position. Bernstein trailed Chris Essick 5-1 in the third set before catching fire from that point forward, winning the next six games to secure the match for Michigan with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 decision.
The Wolverines have claimed the doubles point in 10 of 18 dual matches this season, combining for a 23-19 doubles record. Senior Evan King and junior Shaun Bernstein own a 7-4 mark at the No. 1 position, while the tandem of King and junior Alex Buzzi are 4-0 together at the top of the lineup. U-M is 7-3 when winning the doubles point this season and 4-4 when dropping the initial point.
Michigan is off to a 6-2 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 73-23 (.760) since the 2005 season and is 133-43 (.756) overall at the complex.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On his most memorable moment at Michigan ... "There have been so many, but I would have to say last weekend ranks right up there, beating two quality teams in Illinois and Northwestern. It is great to see how our guys are getting tougher, getting mentally stronger, and that we are building towards the goals that we set out to go after at the beginning of the season."
On working with head coach Bruce Berque ... "Bruce and I go way back from our days together at the University of Florida. When I was a freshman, Bruce came in as an assistant coach and helped me tremendously. He helped me establish a strong work ethic and really got the most out of my ability. Thanks to his work, I was able to win a singles national title, a doubles national title and a SEC Championship. I continue to learn from him to this day."
On the highlight of his own tennis career ... "Playing in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney was pretty neat and having an opportunity to come so close to getting a medal was a great experience. I'd have to say winning an ATP tour event with my good friend James Blake was also very special. We were able to beat Lleyton Hewitt, who was the No. 1 player in the world at the time, and his partner, another very good player, Mark Philippoussis, in a great doubles championship match in Scottsdale, Arizona."
On coaching James Blake ... "That experience is really what got me into coaching. I had a chance to travel with him for three years and work alongside him and his coach Brian Barker. Brian really helped me see the game in a different way."
On why he got into coaching ... "I have always been able to connect with players. I felt like that was always something that came pretty easy to me. When I started working with a few players and saw how they improved, I felt like coaching was something for me to pursue. I really enjoy guiding players and watching as they push themselves to the best of their abilities."
On what coaching at Michigan means to him ... "I played in college tennis before I turned pro and I always felt like the college tennis experience was one of the most exciting pieces of my career. There is nothing like the team part of college tennis -- playing for your teammates and your school -- and I wanted to get back into that atmosphere. When the chance arose to work at a big time program like Michigan, I knew this would be a great place for me to make an impact."
Friday, April 19 -- at Penn State (State College, Pa.), 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 21 -- vs. Ohio State (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon