Bidding farewell to its seniors in their last home match against their biggest competition in front of one of their largest home crowds, the Wisconsin men’s tennis team seemed like it was finally going to break its 17-match losing streak against the Ohio State Buckeyes. In heartbreaking fashion, they fell just one point short, losing 4-3.
From the first serve, emotions were running high.
After fighting back from behind to win the doubles point in a tiebreaker, the whole squad was fired up and ready for the singles matches.
“It’s always important to win double’s point, so it was definitely really good for us, especially against Ohio,” sophomore Patrick Pohlmann said. “We want to win the double’s point because we know that anybody from Ohio can beat anybody from us and the other way around, so it’s a huge advantage.
“We were all fired up. We knew we could beat them. It’s been 17 times, now 18, we lost to them. We were all fired up.”
Head coach Greg Van Emburgh also noted the advantage winning the doubles point gave the Badgers.
“I mean, there’s an opportunity,” Van Emburgh said. “You win the doubles point, now you have to split the singles to get to four. I thought we had a good chance at that. The guys played good throughout the lineup — singles and doubles — it’s a little unfortunate we came out on the short end of the stick. You hope fairy tales work out sometimes, but it was not to be today.”
Although Pohlmann and senior Luke Rassow-Kantor used the doubles win to their advantage — both winning their singles matches — frustration was mounting for the others.
Rassow-Kantor won Wisconsin’s second point on the day in an exciting tiebreaker victory for the second set. For the senior, the exciting individual win was a near perfect way to end his career at home.
“It meant a lot,” Rassow-Kantor said. “It was my last match so I really wanted to get a win at home. We still got Big Ten’s and NCAA’s, but it was my last home match, so I really wanted to get this one.
“It would have meant more if as a team we won. It’s good to win, but it just sucks that the team lost.”
Coming down to what felt like a perfect setting for the win, senior Moritz Baumann became the deciding factor. But Baumann was unable to pull out the victory over Justin Kronauge in No. 2 singles.
“It was really close,” Rassow-Kantor said. “It could have went either way and it just sucked to see him go down like that.”
“You’re hoping that he’ll be able to dig deep enough and play hard enough to give himself a chance,” Van Emburgh said. “It was a little unfortunate there. Justin’s a great player — he’s lost one match the whole year — you better be over 100 percent to beat him. I think Justin’s a good player and you know it’s a coin toss on both ends there in the third set.”
Although the outcome wasn’t quite what Wisconsin was hoping for, all three seniors were able to notch wins on the day whether it was in singles or doubles.
“I mean there’s a lot of emotions,” Van Emburgh said. “There was a great crowd today. I felt like we couldn’t have had a better college setting today. You know, just a great college match and you hope you’re on the right end of the stick of it and we weren’t today. It was great that the guys were able to play some great tennis on Senior Day.”