Michigan senior Ondrej Styler had faced top-ranked Eliot Spizzirri two times earlier this season, losing once while the other match went unfinished.
With a spot in the semifinals of the NCAA singles tournament, Styler, ranked No. 8, got his revenge Thursday, beating Texas’ Spizzirri 6-4, 6-3 at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida. He becomes the first Wolverine to reach the semifinals since Dan Goldberg in 1987.
“All the guys here are super competitive,” Styler told reporters after the match. “The level is so, so high. I went into the match like, ‘I’ve got to enjoy every single point. I’ve got to stay mentally tough and focused and just do my best and do whatever it takes to win. I managed to pull it off today.
“I stayed really calm throughout the big points. I think I won the mental battle of this tennis match. Sometimes, it’s not just about the forehand and backhand. It’s also about the composure that you keep throughout a match.”
Styler, the Big Ten Player of the Year, advances to face Arizona State’s Murphy Cassone, who upset No. 3 Arthur Fery (Stanford) in his quarterfinal match.
“I don’t really believe in specifically scouting the guy,” Styler said. “Obviously, I’m going to look and see who I’m playing, maybe ask around a little bit. My coaches probably know, but to me, every match is the same. I need to focus on my game. I need to focus on enjoying tennis and leaving it all out there. I know that if I do that, I’m capable of beating anyone.”
Michigan had another player reach the quarterfinals in No. 20 Andrew Fenty, but he was eliminated by No. 2 Ethan Quinn (Georgia), 6-2, 6-4.
In the NCAA team tournament last week, the seventh-ranked Wolverines lost 4-1 to No. 2 TCU in a quarterfinal.