This weekend in East Lansing the Michigan State Spartans will host the 2004 Big Ten Conference Men’s Team Tennis Championships. The Wisconsin Badgers head into the weekend as the 10th-seeded squad, not quite what they envisioned when the season began.
“It has obviously been a little bit of a frustrating year for us,” head coach Pat Klingelhoets said. “We’ve been close a lot of times, and we can’t quite get over the hump. But hopefully going into the Big Ten tournament we get a decent draw, and we can get over the hump and play as well as we can play.”
Last year, the Badgers were also seeded 10th. Wisconsin took advantage of the seeding in 2003, as they were able to knock off the seventh-seeded Michigan Wolverines before falling to the second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round.
“We’re probably going to be seeded 10th, and have to play the seventh seed in the first round. Last year we were lucky enough, in the same position, to beat Michigan with the seventh seed,” Klingelhoets said. “This year it is probably going to be Penn State [as the seven seed]. We feel that is a decent draw. And that is our goal: to get in there and beat those guys, and get a shot at the two seed, which will probably be Ohio State or Minnesota.”
The players are looking forward to the challenge this weekend will bring. They are confident that if they go out and play their best, they can make a run in the tournament.
“Hopefully we can get a first-round win, and then I think we would play Ohio State in the second round,” senior co-captain David Hippee said. “[Ohio State] is real good, but I think we have lost to them three years in a row in the Big Ten tournament, and they were good matches. I think we could possibly pull an upset there.”
Winning the doubles point has been very important for the Badgers this season. The team has been able to take the point in a majority of their matches on the season. If they win the doubles point, they feel they can compete with any team they are matched up against.
“Our biggest thing is if we lose the doubles point, we always have a tough time winning four singles matches,” Hippee said. “If we get the doubles point off of anyone, I think we have a chance to win the match.”
While they may not always be happy with the results, the coaches are happy with the effort the men are putting forth. They are hoping everyone can put it together this weekend, so the team can make a run in the tournament.
“I think everybody is playing pretty good,” Klingelhoets said. “I don’t think there is any one person that is standing out. Up and down the lineup I think everyone is playing pretty solid. We’re just looking for a team effort.”
The team begins its tournament play Thursday at 9 a.m. in East Lansing, Mich., taking on the Nittany Lions of Penn State. Wisconsin will look to get some revenge from its recent narrow defeat at the hands of those same Nittany Lions.