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Arizona men’s tennis tops Michigan, advances to second round of NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

For the first time since 2009, Arizona men’s tennis has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 18 ranked Wildcats beat No. 49 Michigan 4-3 in the opening round Friday, held at the University of Kentucky.

Arizona will face No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday at 10 a.m. MST.

Michigan opened the match with a win on doubles, meaning Arizona needed to capture four of six singles points to win.

Arizona’s No. 90 Jonas Ziverts lost on the second seed court, putting the Wildcats in an early 0-2 hole, but the UA responded with straight set wins from six seed Carlos Hassey (7-5, 6-1) and five seed Alejandro Reguant (6-4, 6-2) to tie the match at 2-2.

Filip Malbasic gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead with a 6-3, 6-4 win on the three seed court, while four seed Herman Hoeyeraal fell 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. That tied the match at three-apiece.

The UA fittingly clinched victory over Michigan on a three-set win from freshman Gustaf Strom, its best player. The Sweden-native won two break points in the third set, ultimately defeating his opponent 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

As Strom put away the decisive set, his teammates watched from the sideline, where they alternated between “U of A” and “Arizona” chants.

They also threw in a twist to a classic Appalachian region song.

“Take me home country roads, to the place I belong... Arizona!”

The team dogpiled Strom after winning the match and broke out into their celebratory Olé, Olé, Olé chant.

“Good team win today,” said Arizona men’s tennis coach Clancy Shields. “MVP: our bench. Our guys off the court, tremendous support. On to the second round. Hopefully we’ll play the hosting team, Kentucky. Michigan (was) preseason No. 4 in the country. Big win for our team, but more left for the boys. So we’re ready to keep going.”