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May 12, 1981 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-05-12

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Page 14-Tuesday, May 12, 1981-The Michigan Daily
Blue netters tie for title;
doubles teams save day

I

By BARB BARKER
The Michigan men's tennis team,
which had won the Big Ten tournament
for 13 years in a row, was forced to
share its crown after finishing tied with
Minnesota for the top spot Sunday at
the Liberty Racquet Club.
The netters, who were undefeated in
dual matches this season and entered
the finals matches with a 47-45 advan-
tage over the Gophers, found them-
selves three points down with only two
crucial matches remaining. Three
things had to occur in order for
Michigan to squeeze out a tie with Min-
nesota.
Michigan had to win the second
doubles final (the only doubles final the
Wolverines reached).
Ohio State's first doubles team had to
knock off the Minnesota duo for the title
to prevent the Gophers from earning an
additional two points.
And Michigan had to win its third
doubles consolation match to earn the
tying point.
THE WOLVERINE second doubles
combination of Tom Haney and Ihor
Debryn did its part by upending North-
western's Bill Schafer and Tom
O'Flynn, 6-2, 6-4, in front of a breathless
crowd.
"We really needed that game, and the
pressure was on," said Haney.
' 'Spank' and I just had to keep the
momentum going and keep them
playing our game. The crowd really
helped our psyche."
Then the eyes of the intense Michgian
crowd shifted to the court where OSU's
Ernie Fernandez and Reino Jokinen
defeated Minnesota's Kent Helgeson
and Mike Trautner to take the first
doubles crown.

WOLVERINE NETTERS Mark Mees
and Dan McLaughlin congratulate each
other after they drilled Ohio State's
Peter Braun and Jim Kohls, 6-4, 6-2, in
the third doubles consolation match
Sunday to gain Michigan a share of the
Big Ten championship with Minnesota.
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MEES STRETCHES for a serve in his
third singles final against OSU's Lior
Rusinek. The sophomore out of
Zanesville, Ohio took his second
straight title at the third spot by
defeating Rusinek, 6-0, 6-7, 6-3.
-T

"I NEVER THOUGHT I'd want Ohio
State to win anything so badly," com-
mented Debryn as he watched the mat-
ch.
Then in the climactic third doubles
consolation match, Mark Mees and Dan
McLaughlin downed Peter Braun and
Jim Kohls of Ohio State, 6-4, 6-2, to force
the first tie in the Big Ten Tour-
nament's 72-year existence.
Unlike in recent years, "what really
pulled us through were the excellent
performances by our lesser-known
players," said Eisner afterwards.
"Haney and Debryn were just tremen-
dous out there, and Mees and
McLaughlin came through, too."
THE NETTERS encountered trouble
right from the start of the day's action
as Fernandez dethroned top-
seed and undefeated Wolverine Michael
Leach to take the first singles cham-
pionship in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4. One
year ago, Leach had nabbed the title
from Fernandez in a close 7-6, 4-6, 7-6
match.
"As last year's match showed, Leach
and Fernandez are about evenly-
matched," said Eisner. "If your top
players are playing against players of
equal ability, you can't expect them to
always win."
"Technically, what happened was
that I didn't return or serve well at all,"
said Leach. "I hit only 20 percent of my
serves in the first set, and that isn't
going to win anybody anything."
"I THINK WHAT really happened is
that I didn't have the drive I've had in
earlier years," he mused. "Fernandez
was hungry for a win. He really wanted
that match. Me - being defending
champion - I just wasn't as hungry."
Fernandez's assessment of the match
was similar. "My breaks on Leach's
serves were the whole match," he said.
"We were both depending on our serves
and I was able to come through. I have
a lot of respect for Leach as a tennis
player. Just look at last year. I just
played better today."
In addition to the loss at first singles,
Michigan was defeated in two of its
other five singles finals - both times by
Gophers. At fourth singles, Minnesota's
Hakan Almstrom beat top-seeded Ross
Laser in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2. And top-
seeded Minnesota freshman Mike
Hoeger defeated the unseeded Debryn
to take the sixth singles title.
"WE NEEDED TO have a split, at
least, in the Minnesota match-ups to
stay in a controlling position," said
Eisner. "They really outplayed us. It's
not that we played poorly. Minnesota
just played better."
Michigan, however, was able to gain
a pair of victories in the singles finals.
Senior Matt Horwitch won the second
singles title for the fourth consecutive
year, defeating Barry Waddell of
Illinois, 7-6, 4-6, 6-1. And Michigan
sophomore Mees successfully defended
his third singles crown, outlasting Ohio
State's Lior Rusinek, 6-0, 6-7, 6-3.
"I am not as happy with the tie as I
would have been with an outright win,"
Eisner understated. "Yet, on the other
hand, I feel very proud of the team. A
tie was actually the fairest evaluation
of such a competitive tournament. And
we will be representing this district in
the NCAA Tournament next weekend
since we had the superior season
record."

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