COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In the final the match on the court, sophomore Michael Zhu (Princeton, N.J./Keystone National) rallied back from a first-set deficit to propel the No. 23-ranked University of Michigan men's tennis team to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Minnesota in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday afternoon (April 27) at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Courts.
Site: Columbus, Ohio (Buckeye Varsity Tennis Center)
Event: Big Ten Tournament (Semifinals)
Score: #23 Michigan 4, Minnesota 3
Records: U-M (16-8), Minnesota (15-10)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, April 28 -- vs. Ohio State - Big Ten Tournament Final (Columbus, Ohio)
With the win, the Wolverines advance to the Big Ten Tournament final for the first time in program history. U-M will face Ohio State in Sunday's (April 28) Big Ten Tournament championship match, which is slated for a noon start at OSU's Varsity Tennis Courts. The Buckeyes downed Illinois, 4-0, in the semifinal round. The winner of the conference tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
With the match knotted, 3-3, on the No. 5 court, Zhu trailed Minnesota's Ruben Weber, 2-6, 0-4, before putting together an aggressive rally to win the match. Despite dropping the first four games of the second set, Zhu fought back to win the set in a tiebreaker, 7-5. In the third and decisive set, Zhu and Weber exchanged breaks on multiple occasions, before Zhu held serve in the final game to clinch the dual victory at 7-5.
The Golden Gophers claimed the doubles point with wins at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. The match at No. 1 featuring the 30th-ranked tandem of senior Evan King (Chicago, Ill./Kaplan) and junior Shaun Bernstein (Plainview, N.Y./Plainview Old Bethpage JFK) was abandoned after the Golden Gophers clinched the initial point. King and Bernstein led Jack Hamburg and Mathieu Froment, 6-5, when the point was secured.
Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match after 79th-ranked Leandro Toledo defeated Petrone, 6-1, 6-4, in the first match off the court. Minutes later, sophomore Vlad Stefan (Bucharest, Romania) registered Michigan's first point of the match, notching a 6-3, 6-0 decision over Mathieu Froment at the No. 4 position. Stefan has won five straight matches and is 7-3 against Big Ten competition during the dual-match season.
Junior Alex Buzzi (Key Biscyane, Fla./Gulliver Prep) tied the match, 2-2, with a 7-6 (4), 6-0 win at the No. 6 position. Buzzi has won nine straight singles matches and is 20-6 overall this season.
King put the Wolverines in the lead for the first time with a 6-4, 6-4 win over 50th-ranked Rok Bonin at the top of the lineup. King, the 2013 Big Ten Athlete of the Year, is 22-1 in dual-match competition and 28-4 overall this season. After Minnesota won at No. 3 singles, Zhu tallied the come-from-behind win over Weber to guide the Maize and Blue into the championship match.
Following are match-by-match results:
No. 1 -- No. 11 Evan King (U-M) d. No. 50 Rok Bonin (Minnesota), 6-4, 6-4
No. 2 -- No. 79 Leandro Toledo (Minnesota) d. Alex Petrone (U-M), 6-1, 6-4
No. 3 -- Jack Hamburg (Minnesota) d. Barrett Franks (U-M), 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-4
No. 4 -- No. 123 Vlad Stefan (U-M) d. Mathieu Froment (Minnesota), 6-3, 6-0
No. 5 -- Michael Zhu (U-M) d. Ruben Weber (Minnesota), 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5
No. 6 -- Alex Buzzi (U-M) d. Juan Pablo Ramirez (Minnesota), 7-6 (4), 6-0
No. 1 -- No. 30 Evan King/Shaun Bernstein (U-M) vs. Jack Hamburg/Mathieu Froment (Minnesota), 6-5 DNF
No. 2 -- Rok Bonin/Juan Pablo Ramirez (Minnesota) d. Alex Petrone/Michael Zhu (U-M), 8-2
No. 3 -- Leandro Toledo/Eric Frueh (Minnesota) d. Barrett Franks/Alex Buzzi (U-M), 8-4
Order of Completion: Singles 2-4-6-1-3-5, Doubles 3-2