The Michigan men’s tennis team proved their talent was there at the Bobby Bayliss Hidden Duals Tournament, although there is still work to be done. Although the team has excelled in singles, they are still looking to improve in doubles.
The Wolverines faced Alabama, Columbia and Notre Dame last weekend, winning 13 of 9 singles matches but only 3 of 9 doubles matches.
On day one, Michigan lost its first two doubles matches to the Crimson Tide. Fifth-year Andrew Fenty and junior Jacob Bickersteth fell in a close game, 6-7, and No. 19-ranked sophomore duo Gavin Young and senior Ondrej Styler lost, 3-6. Friday’s lone doubles win came from freshman Nicholas Steiglehner and sophomore Patorn Hanchaikul.
The Wolverines had more success in singles, winning five of six matches that day. After a turbulent debut in doubles, Bickersteth, No. 1 in singles, battled to an impressive win over No. 13, Filip Planinsek, 6-3, 7-5. Styler, Fenty, Young and Hanchaikul all won their respective matches.
“I thought the overall singles energy was really good,” Young said. “We were sticking together as a team and we did a lot of singles in training…it prepared us well.”
On day two, Michigan faced a stronger opponent, Columbia, whose roster includes three top-notch new recruits. The Wolverines’ doubles struggles continued, winning only one game. Singles had mixed results, with Michigan winning 4 out of 7 games.
“A lot of them haven’t played doubles this summer,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “I see him every September, and it’s cliché, … but we just need to play more.”
Michigan was hoping for more success on the final day, but was unable to find it against another formidable opponent at Notre Dame. The Wolverines have lost two of the three doubles matches and two of the singles matches.
Although the Wolverines didn’t get the results they wanted on the scoreboard, they leaned into the culture and helped the rookie adjust. Notably, Steiglehner earned his first collegiate singles win in straight sets, beating Connor Fu, 6-4, 6-4.
“In college tennis, we try to make it a team sport as much as possible,” Young said. “Although you might only be playing against one person, we really try to emphasize staying together as a team and playing as one.”
This emphasis on teamwork, which is often absent in professional tennis, is what propelled Michigan to its historic season last year. The Wolverines hope to refine this attribute even further this year, to achieve its lofty goals.
As Steinberg said, “The goal is to win the national championship.”