Men's Tennis to Take on No. 26 Michigan
Feb. 27, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The Michigan State men's tennis team will travel to rival Michigan on Friday for its Big Ten opener. The 5-5 Spartans come into the matchup unranked, while the 5-4 Wolverines are No. 26. Play is set to begin at 6 p.m., in Ann Arbor, Mich., from inside the Varsity Tennis Courts.
Overall in singles this season, MSU holds a combined 34-19 record and has at least a .500 record on five of the six courts. In doubles, MSU is 17-10 overall.
Big Ten Road Opener
Friday's match will also be the third time under Coach Gene Orlando that MSU has opened up conference play on the road at Michigan. MSU is 1-1 against Michigan in Big Ten road openers, winning 5-2 on Jan. 16, 1994, and losing 6-1 on March 21, 2010.
Junior Vlad Stefan has played the majority of the matches for the Wolverines on the top singles court and holds a 1-5 record. In fact, U-M is just 1-8 on the top singles court. U-M has fared best on court six, with a 6-2 record buoyed by senior Barrett Franks' 3-1 record on that court. U-M is a combined 25-28 in singles play, with winning records on three of the six courts.
Junior Alex Petrone is ranked No. 113 nationally and is a combined 5-4 on the season seeing time on courts one, two and three.
In doubles, seniors Franks and Alex Buzzi are 5-3 on the top court. Franks and Buzzi are ranked No. 17 in the nation in doubles. U-M is a combined 14-7 in doubles, with the tandem of Shaun Bernstein and Kevin Wong accounting for a 6-0 record on court three. Bernstein and Wong are ranked No. 58 in the nation in doubles.
"It's a big rivalry, but to make it a rivalry you've got to win sometimes," Orlando said. "They've had the best of us but we're looking forward to making a strong run at them and hopefully getting a big win. Last year we had some opportunities and we let it slip. We know that our level is better this year and it should be another great match."
In fact, during Coach Orlando's 23 Spartan teams he's fielded, 14 of those teams have had rosters in which at least 45 percent of the roster is from Michigan.
"Bee Forms" Continues to Win
Forman is also partners with senior Aaron Pfister in the alleys. The duo is 5-3 this season, including a win over then-No. 34 Tulsa.
Of all 32 freshmen in the Big Ten, Forman is tied for third with seven wins, trailing second place by one win and first place by four wins. Among all freshmen who have competed in at least four matches, Forman sits alone as he is the lone unbeaten.
In fact, of all players in the Big Ten who have competed in at least five matches, Forman is one of five players who are currently undefeated.
Big Ten Rankings
"The Big Ten has continued to get better," Orlando said. "I think it's actually helped our program get better as well. That's what's so great about being in a great conference is you get to play some of the best teams in the country. You have to raise your bar to be competitive."
Even though the Big Ten is stacked, Coach Orlando is confident in his team and its ability to be able to make a run at the program's first Big Ten title since 1967.
"I feel like they believe they can win no matter who they play," Orlando said. "Not with being cocky or anything like that. They know that they're in every match and they have what it takes inside of them, it's just about us bringing it out."
MSU will return to play March 8 as it travels to Boston, Mass., over the university's spring break to take on No. 30 Harvard.
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