Article courtesy of Western Michigan Athletics
The Western Michigan Broncos men’s tennis team saw its record breaking season come to an end during the NCAA Tournament first round match on Saturday morning to the hands of the 25th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a final score of 4-1, which was played inside Michigan’s Varsity Tennis Center.
”I am unbelievably proud of our guys and I couldn’t have asked for more this season,” commented WMU head coach Dave Morin. “Seasons and teams like this are why we are in the business. This team is arguably one of our best teams ever, especially after being ranked as high as 31.”
Western Michigan snapped it’s impressive 11-match winning streak and finished the season at 22-5 overall, the most wins in a season for the Broncos since the 2006 season when WMU went 25-5. The 20+ win season is also the fifth 20+ win season under Morin.
The Broncos put up a fight in doubles play but the Fighting Irish proved to be too strong, taking the doubles point at three and two in that order. Seniors Maik Steiner and Billy Heckman fell 6-3 while juniors Nick Schnobel and Eric Olivarez dropped a 6-4 match on two. Sophomores Jannik Opitz and Kennosuke Nouchi battled No. 49 Kempin / McCormick at No. 1 and were tied 5-5 before the doubles point was called.
In singles play the Irish increased the lead to 3-0 with victories at four in two, also in that order. Junior transfer Lenhard Haupt dropped just his third match all season at the four spot, falling 6-3, 6-2 to Matt Gamble, while Opitz fell at two as the No. 2 player for the Broncos saw his 12-match winning streak snapped to Richard Ciamarra.
Olivarez became the first Bronco tennis player in program history to earn a singles victory in the NCAA Tournament as he defeated Grayson Broadus 6-4, 6-0 on six just moments before Steiner fell on one as Notre Dame clinched the match, 4-1.
Steiner had the tough job of facing 34th-ranked Alex Lebedev but fell in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. After playing as the No. 1 player all year, the senior and the 2018 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year concludes his epic career with 176 total combined wins to become 15th on the Bronco All-Time Wins List.