College notebook: U-M men's tennis team overcomes inexperience one match at a time
With no senior leadership and only one junior on the team, the University of Michigan men’s tennis team is one of the more inexperienced teams in the Big Ten. But that lack of on-court experience hasn’t prevented the team from making some big strides this season.
“They’ve been able to avoid a lot of the typical freshmen-sophomore roadblocks. I think they’re more mature than the normal group of freshmen. They’re very passionate about the game, they’re good listeners and emotionally they’re pretty stable,” head coach Bruce Berque said.
Currently the Wolverines are 9-5 and 2-1 in the Big Ten. The lone loss in conference play came last weekend to Minnesota and ended a five-match winning-streak.
The most experienced player on the team, junior Evan King, said entering the season he knew he would have to be the leader and set an example for the younger players.
“I definitely knew it was going to be an important role. I guess it’s always a good thing if your top player is also somebody who can be a leader and can help other people on the team,” King said. “I enjoy the role; I knew it was going to happen at some point.”
As the Wolverines delve deeper into the Big Ten season, Berque believes that King has done a good job of making sure the younger players are aware of what it takes to compete each week.
“He’s been stressing to them that they can’t take any match lightly. They have to fight for every match at every position because you never know when your match is going to be the deciding match,” Berque said.
King plays No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles with partner Shaun Bernstein, a sophomore. So far this season, King has compiled a 24-6 record in singles play, and he's the No. 10-ranked singles player in the country. He and Bernstein are 16-7 as a team this year.
Bernstein believes that as the season has progressed, the team has focused less on results and more on competing during each match.
“We’ve done a good job of emphasizing the important stuff. Competing as hard as you can and always trying to improve. Those kind of thoughts allow all of us to take the pressure off a little bit more and just understand how important it is to fight no matter what the situation is,” Bernstein said.
Although the team is worried more about improving with each match, King has made it clear to his teammates that he wants to win a Big Ten title before he leaves Ann Arbor.
“The extremely promising thing about that goal for me is, we have the exact same team next year. We’re only going to get better,” King said. “We can compete with any team in the country. We can go into anybody’s house and give everybody a heck of a match.”
With Purdue and Indiana coming into town this weekend, King and his teammates are looking forward to sending a message to the rest of the conference.
“I’m really pumped up for them trying to come in here and try to take our house," he said. "We won’t let that go easily.”
Madwed named Big Ten Swimmer of the Year
On Wednesday, Michigan senior swimmer Dan Madwed was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, becoming the 17th Wolverine to win the award. Madwed helped lead the Wolverines to their 36th Big ten title this season.
Madwed won four individual Big Ten championships this season in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly, as well as the 400 and 800 freestyle relays. At the NCAA championships last weekend, Madwed won five All-America citations. He is planning on swimming at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.
EMU and U-M women earn weekly awards
Eastern Michigan golfer Shannon Warner has been named the Mid-America Conference Golfer of the Week. The senior and Livonia native finished in the top-five at the UALR Women’s Golf Classic last week after shooting a 218 (70-76-72) for the tournament. The award is the first in her career.
A pair of Michigan softball players also collected honors this week.
Catcher Lauren Sweet was named Big ten Freshman of the Week for the first time in her career. Sweet went 6-for-8 in the Wolverines' four games last week while scoring four runs and driving in three. She also led the team with five walks during that stretch.
Haylie Wagner won her third Pitcher of the Week award after going 3-0 for her team and compiling a 1.40 earned run average last week. Sunday, Wagner threw her fourth shutout of the year as the Wolverines beat Penn State 5-0.
Upcoming home schedule:
U-M men’s tennis — noon vs. Purdue at Varsity Tennis Center
U-M women’s water polo — noon vs. Indiana at Canham Natatorium
EMU women’s tennis — 1 p.m. vs. Miami at the Chippewa Club
U-M men’s tennis — noon vs. Indiana at Varsity Tennis Center
U-M baseball — 4:05 p.m. vs. Central Michigan at Wilpon Complex
EMU baseball — 6 p.m. vs. Michigan State at Oestrike Stadium