Michigan men's tennis aces West. Michigan at home in NCAA tourney opener

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor – The Michigan men’s tennis team, ranked No. 18 nationally and coming off its first Big Ten championship, is riding that momentum and breezed through its NCAA Tournament first-round match.

Michigan (23-3) won the double’s point then swept the top three singles courts in straight sets – the Wolverines won the first sets on all six courts – to defeat Western Michigan (15-9), 4-0, on Friday afternoon at the Varsity Tennis Center. The No. 5-seed Wolverines will face Oklahoma on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Oklahoma (15-10) advanced with a 4-2 victory over Louisville in the early match on Friday. The Michigan-Oklahoma winner advances to the Super Regional next weekend, which the Wolverines could also host.

The Wolverines have only advanced past the NCAA second round once (they lost in the third round in 2018) during coach Adam Steinberg’s tenure, but they are playing with a high level of confidence these days.

“This is a different team,” said Steinberg, in his eighth season. “They have so much belief which we really didn’t have in the past like these guys have now. Coming off the Big Ten championship has given them this foundation of belief that they feel that no matter where they play, no matter who they play, they’re confident.

“It’s a different feeling for sure. It’s great to see that because you see it in their tennis. They believe in themselves, so they play much braver on the big points and things that we didn’t always do and now I see a totally different game style, a confidence we’ve been pushing for for years.”

Michigan took a 1-0 lead winning the doubles point with a 6-2 win by Nino Ehnrenschneider and Andrew Fenty on the top court and Patrick Maloney and Nick Beaty winning 6-2 on Court 2.

“It was really important,” Steinberg said of the doubles advantage. “We lost the doubles point in the final of the Big Ten (against Ohio State last Sunday, (and) we take a lot of pride in our doubles so I knew the guys wanted to bounce back. I thought they were great in the doubles.”

Ondrej Styler won on the top singles court, 6-3, 6-3, Patrick Maloney won 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2, and Fenty won 6-0, 6-2 at No. 3 against the Broncos.

“My first year we lost second round,” Fenty, a senior ranked No. 63 in singles, said. “We have seen our team grow and grow and grow, and we’re playing with that confidence right now. We’re a super confident team. We’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, and we like this one a lot more.”

Being able to host at play at home is, obviously, an advantage. If the Wolverines defeat Oklahoma on Saturday, they likely will host a Super Regional next weekend. They like their chances.

“We’re just a confident team,” Fenty said. “We’ve trained, we’ve put in years of work, we’ve been working like we’re the best team in the country, and it’s showing now. We’ve believed since the fall that we can be the best team in the country, and here’s our chance to show.”

Michigan women advance

The No. 18-ranked Michigan women's tennis team, playing in sweltering, high-90-degree heat in Austin, Texas, advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round with a 4-0 victory over Oregon on Friday.

With the win, Michigan is 20-5, its 12th 20-win season in program history.

The Wolverines will face No. 3 Texas, the defending national champions, on their home court on Saturday in the second round.

Sophomore Jaeden Brown sealed the win for Michigan converting on her third match point in a 6-3, 7-6 win at No. 2 singles. The Wolverines had straight-set wins from Nicole Hammond at No. 3 singles and from Andrea Cerdan at No. 4. Michigan claimed the doubles point with wins on the first two courts.


Twitter: @chengelis