Following its best season in more than 10 years, the men's tennis team will be looking to make some noise in Waco, Texas, this weekend at the Baylor Intercollegiate.
The tournament should give the Badgers a reference point to see where they stand against some of the nation's toughest teams. Joining Wisconsin will be No. 26 Oklahoma, No. 24 Boise State, No. 12 Texas and No. 4 Baylor, as well as 15 other programs from around the country.
"It's one of the top college events in the country," University of Wisconsin men's tennis head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. "It gives us an opportunity to send some of our ranked players down there to compete with the best of the country."
After going 16-11 last year and 6-4 in Big Ten play, the Badgers will start the fall season ranked No. 32 in the country, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
The fall ranking, however, is not what Van Emburgh is focused on. Instead, he wants his team to show improvement.
"We want to take the fall into our spring season and just get better every day," Van Emburgh said.
UW has one player listed in the top 50, No. 49 Moritz Baumann, a sophomore from Inzlingen, Germany.
In addition to Baumann, six other players participating are ranked amount the ITA’s top 50, including No. 7 Erling Tveit and No. 18 Robbye Poole representing Ole Miss, No. 22 Bojan Szumanski of Texas Tech, No. 23 Dimitar Kutrovsky from Texas and No. 34 Jerry Makowski and No. 37 Conor Pollock of Texas A&M.
Other notable Badgers are Jeremy Sonkin, a senior from Wheaton, Ill., and Nolan Polley, a senior from Lexington, Ky. They enter the tournament No. 87 and No. 101 respectively.
Van Emburgh has been impressed early on with his squad’s play and overall attitude.
"The guys have been really hitting it hard," he said. "It just makes it easier for a coach to be able to push your guys because they want to be pushed and they're willing to be pushed.
"This is the best fall start that we've had in my three years. I think that every guy on this team really sees that the potential is there."
The Badgers potentially could be even better than they were last year when they advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament for the first time since 1994. Their NCAA Tournament birth last year marked only the third time in school history and the first time since 1998 that that has occurred.
When asked how good this Badger team could be, the coach didn't hesitate to discuss his expectations.
"The sky's the limit for this team," Van Emburgh said. "I think we can contend for a Big Ten title, make the final 16 and produce several All-Americans."