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Michigan men's tennis keeps rolling, sweeps Oklahoma to reach Super Regional

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — The Michigan men’s tennis team, with its big-serving, aggressive style of play and an assist from playing on its home courts, has swept through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, defeated Oklahoma, 4-0, in the second round on Saturday on the outdoor courts at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Wolverines, playing indoors, beat Western Michigan, 4-0, on Friday.

They will face No. 12 seed Texas, which advanced with a 4-0 win over LSU on Saturday, next weekend in the Super Regional. Michigan has the luxury of hosting again.

Michigan took a 1-0 lead by getting the doubles point with wins from Nick Beaty and Patrick Maloney at No. 2 and Ondrej Styler and Jacob Bickersteth at No. 3. The Wolverines had straight-set singles wins from Nino Ehrenschneider at No. 5, No. 4 Bickersteth and Styler, playing the top court. Michigan swept all but one of its singles first sets.

Styler is now 14-1 playing No. 1 singles.

“It all comes from my confidence in my teammates,” Styler said. “I don’t need to worry about them, I don’t need to worry about the scoreboard. At any point in the match, I feel we can all win at all positions and that just gave me the confidence and pace to focus on my own game. I’ve been playing really good the past couple weeks.”

Michigan, which won its first Big Ten tournament title last weekend with a win over Ohio State, is 24-3 and has won seven straight matches. The Wolverines are 15-0 at home.

“It’s super important,” Styler said of hosting. “It’s underrated sometimes, but we’re getting really good crowds, which I’m really grateful for and we all appreciate it. I just hope it’s going to keep getting better and better with the crowd.”

Texas is 18-10, including 9-7 combined on the road and at neutral sites.

“Texas is a really good team. They’ve been really good for a long time,” said Beaty, who won his first set 7-5 and had a 3-1 lead when the match was clinched. “It will be a great match. It will be really nice being used to these courts and have a home crowd like this, too. When they erupt, those things are a huge lift. Playing here is going to be huge for us to try to send us to the Elite Eight, which anything can happen from there.”

The Wolverines have built a strong resume this season, with a 4-1 win at top-ranked TCU in March and wins over Ohio State when the Buckeyes were No. 2 and then at No. 4 last weekend in the Big Ten tournament. They also have a 4-0 win over then-No. 6 Baylor.

That has helped mold Michigan’s confidence heading into the postseason.

“A lot of it started when we beat TCU,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “It started rolling. They created a lot of belief from that. And I think they get a lot of belief from the depth of our team. If we have a guy out, we have a lineup we can put guys in that are really good.”

Playing at home and polishing off Western Michigan and Oklahoma with 4-0 wins each day and dropping only one set, the Wolverines like how they’re trending.

“We’ve beaten the No. 1 team in the country, we beat the No. 2 team in the country, we beat the No. 4 team, the No. 6 team, some of which we’ve done multiple times,” Beaty said. “We’re unreal confident. We can definitely play with anybody in the country at the very least and beat anybody in the country. We have that confidence.”

Twitter: @chengelis