After an almost perfect match against in-state rival Marquette University, the No. 38 men’s tennis team looks to keep the momentum going as they head into a double-header against No. 70 Illinois State University, followed by Western Illinois University at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium on Sunday.
Dropping only one point to the Golden Eagles Wednesday, the Badgers are hoping to continue their success in their last couple of matches before the Big Ten season starts. According to head coach Greg Van Emburgh, these non-conference matches provide the team with special opportunities they can’t recreate in practice.
“We’re getting close to start our conference season which is next weekend with Illinois — they’re going to be a tough match. So we want to make sure that we’re match tough. You can’t recreate practice and match play under pressure situations,” he said. “That’s where we’re kind of focused on right now, making sure we get enough match play and I think we were able to do that [Wednesday] and I think we’re going to be able to do that on Sunday.”
UW faces off against No. 70 Illinois State first who just came off its own win over South Alabama. After claiming a spot in the rankings, the Redbirds will be looking to take out the Badgers and keep moving up.
Van Emburgh expects a good fight from ISU.
“I know Illinois State has some good players on their team — I’m not sure about Western Illinois — but I know Illinois State jumped into the rankings this week so they’re going to be a feisty team,” he said. “They’ve got some players with some potential there so we’ve got to be ready to play, to play our best tennis.”
After matching up against the Redbirds, the team will have to hit the courts again against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. WIU dropped two of its last three and is hoping for a big win over UW.
“They’re going to come out fighting because we’re the ones that have more to lose than they do; we’re the ranked team,” senior Michael Dierberger said. “We know both teams are going to come out ready to go.”
“I think that’s important for us to not overlook anybody,” Van Emburgh added. “To just go out there and take care of business and get your win if you can; win as bad as you can; go out there and do it. I think that’s the important thing for us for the remainder of the year.”
Competing in double-headers is nothing new for Wisconsin as they have already found success in a double-header in February and a triple-header at the end of January. While the day will certainly be filled with a lot of tennis, the Badgers know they can handle it.
Dierberger notes that the experience this season will help prepare them for the match-ups Sunday.
“It’s going to be a lot of tennis. We’ve already had a triple-header and another double-header, so we know how much tennis we’re going to play. It’s just stretching a lot, icing, and just getting ready for it.”
With the Big Ten season looming around the corner, the Badgers are just hoping to keep getting better and keep working hard all the way through.
Senior Moritz Baumann noted the importance of Sunday heading into conference play.
“[We're] just trying to get better and get ready. Try to get two wins there and get ready for the Big Ten season. That’s our goal — to play really well in the Big Ten season and just going to work hard for the next couple of days.”
Although they have a full day of tennis ahead of them on Sunday, Wisconsin is just going to take it one match at a time.
“Every match we go into, just try and win that match,” Dierberger added. “We’ll go 1-0 every match; every day is a new day. We’ve had a couple losses now, so just turning everything around and starting out 0-0 each day and getting better.”