The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: MEN'S TENNIS Wolverines Almost Pull Off Upset In Second Round No. 13 Mississippi in the second round of the NCAA Tourna- ment May 12, bowing out earlier than any of the Wolverines would have wanted. The good news: every single player who set foot on the The bad news: the Michigan men's tennis team lost, 4-2, to court during the match will be back in 2013 ready to take the next step. Junior Evan King, freshman Alex Petrone, sophomore Shaun Bernstein, freshman Michael Zhu, sophomore Barrett Franks and sophomore Alex Buzzi comprised the Wolverines' singles lineup. King and Petrone won their matches. And in doubles, a big area of concern heading into the year, Michigan trotted out King-Bernstein, Franks-Buzzi and Pretrone-Zhu. "You never know how a young team will respond to their first time playing in the NCAA Tournament, and I think they responded great, all very disappointed that we didn't come away with the win, because we were very, very close, but as time goes on, we'll have perspective and realize that this will help us build for next year. " Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. "We're courts — nearly taking the doubles point in a big upset. The No. 29 pair of King and Bernstein jumped ahead of No. 13 Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen at No. 1 doubles, while unranked Franks-Buzzi led No. 17 Marcel Thieman and Chris Thieman at No. 2. Unfortunately, the Rebels' pairs both rallied, 8-6 at No. 1 and The Wolverines got off to an early lead on all three doubles " 9-7 at No. 2, to claim the 1-0 lead heading into singles play. "We were all really disappointed we lost the double point, because we were playing some good tennis, and we put ourselves in position to win that point, won the ITA Midwest Region Coach Of The Year Award. "Sometimes, when you're the underdog and you put your- self in position, but you don't burst through the door and get that point, it can kind of rob you of that belief. But we came back and tied it up pretty quickly. "We're proud of the team — and they should be proud of " said Berque, who themselves — but we're also disappointed, because that doubles point was pivotal. to even the score, 2-2. No. 6 King beat No. 14 Scholtz, 6-4, 6-3 at the No. 1 singles, and Mississippi's No. 45 Lutjen toppled Bernstein, 6-2, 6-2. But the real sparks flew at No. 2 singles, where the un- said. "He's been playing pretty well against some of the top players, recently. And I wanted to see how he would step up in the NCAA Tournament, especially once we found out we were going to play Mississippi, who has a veteran senior at No. 2. "[Assistant coach] Mark Merklein and I had a sense when we were scouting Mississippi the day before that Alex could do very well, but it was interesting to see him go for it. Petrone has steadily improved through his first year with " the Wolverines, finishing with a 24-11 singles record, the ITA Midwest Region Rookie Of The Year Award and second-team All-Big Ten honors. 68 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2012 In singles play, Michigan took two of the first three matches " Freshman Alex Petrone finished the season with a 24-11 singles record and ITA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year honors. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS nique. He's a good athlete, and he's a natural ball striker from the baseline, me this year has been the consistency, day to day, of his enjoyment of the game, practice, learning, getting better and improvement. He really likes the whole thing — the practice, competing. He's a good listener, and he enjoys the team aspect of it. "He's really happy here and, on top of that, he's been very "He was well coached growing up, so he's got good tech- " Berque said. "What has really impressed ranked Petrone tallied his best win of the year, upsetting No. 2 Marcel Thieman, 6-4, 6-4. "I was curious to see how would Alex go out there, " Berque productive. He's improved every week, and this last month of the season, he's really taken it to another level. Some of the skills are less developed than others, like his serves, vol- leys and doubles skills, but they have improved too. And I'm sure they will continue to improve. bottom half of the Wolverines' lineup came up just short. Mississippi claimed back-to-back wins in the Nos. 4 and 5 With a chance to close out the upset over the Rebels, the " slots, with William Kallberg defeating Zhu, 6-4, 7-5, and Jo- han Backstrom beating Franks, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. "Barrett didn't play a great first set, won the second and unfortunately got broken once in the third," Berque said. "To his credit, he was sick as a dog yesterday, and I didn't even know if he'd be able to play today. He was struggling a little bit with his energy, but given the circumstances, he did a great job to fight back. "I was proud of the way they all fought. " — Andy Reid

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