Weekly #16: U-M to Conclude Big Ten Play vs. PSU, at No. 3 OSU
Evan King

April 18, 2012

Coach Berque Interview

Friday, April 20 -- vs. Penn State (Varsity Tennis Center), 4 p.m.
Live Scoring/Live Video | Promotions: Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day
Sunday, April 22 -- at No. 3 Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio), Noon
Live Scoring

The No. 21-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team (15-5, 8-1 Big Ten) will conclude Big Ten dual play next weekend, hosting Penn State (11-11, 1-8 Big Ten) at 4 p.m. on Friday (April 20) before traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 3 Ohio State (27-2, 9-0 Big Ten) at noon on Sunday (April 22).

Scouting Penn State -- The Nittany Lions are 11-11 on the season and carry a 1-8 Big Ten record after falling to Northwestern (5-2, April 13) and Illinois (6-1, April 15) last weekend. Russell Bader leads Penn State with a 22-13 singles record, including a 13-9 dual mark predominately at the No. 2 position. Bader and Jason Lee rank as the nation's No. 31 doubles team and carry an 11-1 dual-match record. Michigan is 19-5 in the all-time series against Penn State and has won the last five straight meetings, including a 6-1 decision last season in State College, Pa.

Scouting Ohio State -- The Buckeyes, the nation's No. 3-ranked team, are 27-3 this season and lead the Big Ten with a perfect 9-0 league record after defeating Illinois (7-0, April 13) and Northwestern (5-2, April 15) last weekend. Six different OSU players boast national singles rankings, most notably No. 6 Blaz Rola and No. 12 Chase Buchanan, while four different doubles combinations own top-65 rankings. Rola and Buchanan currently list as the nation's No. 1 doubles squad. Michigan is 73-29-2 in the all-time series against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have claimed the last 11 meetings, including a 6-1 win last season in Columbus.

Dual Match Format -- This weekend's dual matches will be contests 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.

Where We Rank -- After extending their win streak to six matches, the Wolverines moved up a position, climbing to the No. 21 spot in the latest ITA national rankings, released Tuesday (April 17). All-American Evan King held onto the No. 8 singles listing, while U-M's top doubles tandem of King and sophomore Shaun Bernstein checks in at the No. 22 position. [ ITA Rankings ]

On a Roll -- With their weekend wins against Nebraska and Iowa (April 14-15), the Wolverines extended their winning streak to six consecutive matches and have won 11 of their last 12. U-M's current win streak is the program's longest since winning 10 straight in 2007. Michigan is 6-2 in road matches this season and boasts an 8-2 home record.

Big in the Big Ten -- With its 8-1 record in Big Ten play, Michigan has already matched its most conference wins since tallying nine in 1999. The Wolverines currently sit in second place in the Big Ten standings. Ohio State owns the top spot with a 9-0 record. If both teams win their Friday matches, U-M will play for a share of the conference title against the Buckeyes on Sunday.

Headed for a Showdown -- Ohio State will likely play either Blaz Rola or Chase Buchanan at its No. 1 singles positions, and both Buckeye players have extensive experience against junior Evan King. The Wolverine junior is 1-4 in collegiate meetings against Rola but claimed the most-recent meeting, earning a 7-5, 7-5 decision this fall in the second round of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships (Nov. 3-6). Rola had defeated King, 6-3, 6-4, just weeks earlier in the Midwest regional final on Oct. 17. King is 1-1 against Buchanan over the past two seasons, similarly winning the most-recent match -- a 5-7, 6-0, 6-3 decision in the Midwest regional semifinals this fall. King also defeated OSU's Peter Kobelt, 7-6, 6-2, at the regional event.

Last Time Out -- The Wolverines extended their win streak to six straight matches with wins against Nebraska (4-3, April 14) and Iowa (6-1, April 15) last weekend at the Varsity Tennis Center. Michigan claimed the doubles point in both contests and combined for eight singles wins in the homestand. U-M rallied to claim the initial point against the Cornhuskers, winning 9-8 (9) to clinch from the No. 2 position before splitting three singles matches. The Wolverines rolled against Iowa, securing the doubles point quickly and taking five-of-six singles contests. Junior Evan King and sophomore Alex Buzzi both posted perfect 2-0 singles records on the weekend. [ Recaps: Nebraska | Iowa ]

We Thank You for Your Attendance -- Michigan fans rank among the best in college tennis. Despite hosting only two home matches in March, the Wolverines remained among the nation's attendance leaders, listing fifth nationally in total attendance (2,955), third in average attendance (422) and boast the fourth-highest-attended match in the nation (684, March 17 vs. Michigan State).

Complete Statistics: Through April 15


King of the Court -- Junior Evan King, the nation's No. 8-ranked singles player, owns a solid 12-6 record against ranked opposition this season, most recently cruising past Nebraska's No. 72 Christopher Aumueller, 6-3, 6-1. He had not faced a ranked opponent for six weeks before knocking off Illinois' Dennis Nevolo, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3 , to clinch U-M's win at Illinois in the final match the previous weekend (April 6). Among King's six total losses this season, five came against top-15 players, including two against Duke's Henrique Cunha and two against Washington's Kyle McMorrow.

We're Going Streaking -- Junior Evan King picked up a pair of weekend singles victories to extend his win streak to 13 matches in a row. King has won 17 of his last 18 matches and boasts a team-best 18-2 dual record. The Wolverine junior is no stranger to long winning streaks. Last season, he boasted a 14-match run early in the dual season.

Climbing the Charts -- With his 6-2, 6-2 win against Iowa's Matt Hagan last Sunday (April 15), junior Evan King improved to 30-6 on the season to tie his career-best season win total. [He went 30-9 as a sophomore last year.] King owns a share of the 10th position among U-M's all-time single-season wins leaders and needs just one more to move to the eighth spot, currently held by Jon Morris (31, 1988) and Peter Pusztai (31, 1994).

A Singles Surge -- Half of Michigan's four returning players in the singles lineup have already matched or surpassed their season win total from a season ago. Junior Evan King has posted 30 wins in each of the last two seasons, while sophomore Alex Buzzi, with 15 singles wins, has nearly doubled his previous career total (9). Sophomore Barrett Franks is just two wins shy of reaching his 2011 win tally (17).

Freshman Phenom -- Freshman Alex Petrone has also been of a tear of late, winning nine of his last 11 in singles, including three at the No. 2 position. He collected a 6-0, 6-4 decision against Northwestern's No. 109 Spencer Wolf two weekends ago to improve to 3-1 against ranked opponents. Petrone is 20-10 on the season and 13-6 in dual-match action. He has also teamed with fellow freshman Michael Zhu to go 13-6 from the No. 3 doubles position; the duo has claimed its last three doubles matches.

A Point of Emphasis -- The Wolverines claimed the doubles point in each of their last six dual matches and have been solid in doubles throughout the dual season, claiming the initial point in 14 of 19 dual matches and combining for a solid 35-20 combined doubles record, including a 12-6 mark at the No. 1 position. In the five contests in which it dropped the doubles point, U-M has rallied from the initial deficit to earn the dual victory on three occasions, including March 23 at Wisconsin. Michigan won just six doubles points through 24 duals last season.

Buzzi's Breakthrough Year -- Sophomore Alex Buzzi posted a perfect 4-0 record over the weekend, claiming two wins from the No. 5 singles position and a pair of decisions from the No. 2 doubles spot. He clinched the Wolverines' 4-3 win against Nebraska with his 7-6 (4), 6-3 win against Stefan Gollner after helping to clinch the critical doubles point with a huge 9-8 (9) comeback win. Buzzi, who did not appear in U-M's dual-match singles lineup last year, owns a career-best 15 wins on the season.

In a Clinch -- Sophomore Alex Buzzi has clinched three of Michigan's last six wins, including last Saturday's 4-3 win against Nebraska with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 decision against Stefan Gollner at the No. 5 singles position. The Wolverine sophomore also secured both of U-M's victories in their homestand that kicked off its current win streak and earlier this season, clinched U-M's 4-3 comeback win in the final match at Vanderbilt on Feb. 25.

Last Non-Conference Match...Until Postseason -- With its road win at Wake Forest on March 10, Michigan wrapped up its non-conference schedule for the 2012 season. The Wolverines went 7-4 over their non-conference slate and will conclude the regular season with 11 consecutive Big Ten matches before kicking off postseason play at the Big Ten Championships, April 26-29. Michigan had a 7-7 non-conference record in 2011.

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Bruce Berque is in his eighth year at the helm of the Wolverine program, compiling a 123-78 overall record and 50-19 Big Ten mark over his tenure. Berque has led the Wolverines to six consecutive NCAA Championships berths, including the 2008 Sweet 16, and has finished among the top four of the Big Ten in six of seven seasons. Mark Merklein is in his first season as Michigan's assistant coach after joining the staff this past summer. A former ATP tour professional (1994-2005) and NCAA singles (1994) and doubles (1993) champion while at Florida, Merklein spent the previous six years as a national coach with the USTA Player Development Center in Boca Raton, Fla. [ Merklein Hired as Assistant Coach for Wolverine Program ]

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Thu-Sun., April 26-29 -- at Big Ten Championships (Evanston, Ill.)
Fri-Sun., May 11-13 -- at NCAA Regionals (Site TBA)
Thu-Tue., May 17-22 -- at NCAA Championships (Athens, Ga.)
Wed-Mon., May 23-28 -- at NCAA Individual Championships (Athens, Ga.)

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423