Spec elevates game in top singles spot

The sophomore was named the Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the week Tuesday.

Sophomore Matic Spec competes against Michigan State in a singles match at the Baseline Tennis Center on April 10.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Sophomore Matic Spec competes against Michigan State in a singles match at the Baseline Tennis Center on April 10.

Jack White

Only one Minnesota tennis player won a singles match against No. 21 Michigan last weekend.
 
 
Sophomore Matic Spec defeated Jathan Malik of the Wolverines 6-3, 6-4, serving as the only silver lining of the team’s performance. Spec has often been one of the team’s bright spots during its 1-6 start to Big Ten play, carrying a record of 11-8 in singles and 9-7 in doubles this spring.
 
 
“Matic is really adding to his game this year, and he’s playing higher in the lineup than he did last year,” head coach Geoff Young said. “It’s been a new type of season for him, and I think he’s doing really well coming into being a good leader. And I think he’s right on track to really making big jumps in his game.”
 
 
Spec also won his singles match against Michigan State later in the weekend to help the Gophers earn their first Big Ten victory of the season.
 
 
He won his only doubles match of the weekend that was finished, which helped him earn Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week honors.
 
 
“It’s nice,” Spec said. “I didn’t really expect it because I think there’s a lot of good players and a lot of guys in the Big Ten that are having great seasons this year. It’s a bit unexpected, but I’m very happy to get it. It’s a nice reward for a good weekend.”
 
 
Spec won the doubles match alongside sophomore Felix Corwin, his partner in the fall.
 
 
They haven’t played together much this spring but are still ranked No. 26.
 
 
In the fall, the two sophomores won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Regionals and advanced to the ITA National Indoors, where they went 1-2. 
 
 
Corwin injured his wrist in the spring, so Spec was paired with junior Jeremy Lynn for most of February and March.
 
 
Last weekend, though, the duo reunited.
 
 
“We had a lot of time off when I hurt my wrist, but now that we’re playing together, it’s exciting just because we play so well together,” Corwin said. “We’re really close off the court as well, so it’s just fun to be with him on the court, too.”
 
 
While he’s rotated through partners in doubles, Spec’s spot in singles has been fixed. He’s played every match except one this spring in the No. 1 singles position.
 
 
After earning first team All-Big Ten honors and the ITA Central Rookie of the Year as a freshman, Spec said he knew he’d have to elevate his game further this year.
 
 
“I was anticipating I would have to give something more, add some extra value to the team because they aren’t much older guys on the team,” Spec said.