After a rough three-match road trip, the UW men’s tennis team (3-7, 0-4 Big Ten) returns home to host in-state rival Marquette (7-8, 0-2 C-USA) Wednesday at the Nielsen Tennis Center.
The Badgers enter Wednesday’s showdown on a three-match losing streak after a pair of unsuccessful conference excursions. Following losses to Michigan and Michigan State in the Wolverine State, and a loss to Iowa in Iowa City, Wisconsin returns to the friendly confines of the Nielsen Tennis Center for a much-needed break from conference action and the rigors of the road.
However, Wednesday’s in-state battle will pose a different challenge for the embattled Badgers, as the streaking Golden Eagles invade Nielsen with revenge on their minds. Last season, Wisconsin claimed a convincing victory over Marquette by a score of 5-2. Only one member of the current Golden Eagle squad emerged with a win in that meeting, as senior Troy Delmege claimed victory over former Badger Alex Conti in a marathon three-set match. Regardless of last season’s result, Marquette does not take in-state rivalries lightly.
“I think it is always different playing an in-state rival,” Marquette coach Steve Rodecap said. “It is a match that our guys always look forward to.”
The match will feature a pair of talented freshmen, each of whom lead his team in wins this season. Wisconsin freshman Jeremy Sonkin tops the Badgers with a 7-2 dual record. The first-year phenom has been on a tear, winning seven of his last eight matches out of the No. 2 flight.
On the opposite side of the net, freshman Brett Binkley leads the Golden Eagles with a 10-5 dual mark out of the No. 4 flight. The streaking newcomer has won his last four matches, all in straight sets.
Marquette has struggled this season out of the top two singles flights, with No. 1 singles player Eigis Vedrickas compiling a 5-8 dual record and No. 2 man Delmege posting just a 3-10 dual mark.
However, the Golden Eagles have found success in the middle and lower flights, with Binkley tearing it up at No. 4, Ian Kamas rattling off an 8-6 dual record at the No. 3 spot and Pete Van Lieshout recording an 8-7 mark while splitting time between the No. 5 and No. 6 flights.
“I feel like there has been some spots that we have been really good in this year, and spots that we have been a bit up and down in, but, on a whole, we continue to move forward,” Rodecap said.
Marquette has seen more consistency in doubles play, with all three regular pairings hovering around the .500 mark. The No. 1 pair of Delmege and Vedrickas is the only Golden Eagles tandem below .500 in dual play, with a 6-7 record. The No. 2 team of Binkley and Van Lieshout holds a 7-6 mark, while Kamas and Ricky Servoss are 6-4 out of the No. 3 flight.
Wisconsin will have its hands full against the Golden Eagles, as only two Badgers boast winning singles records. Aside from Sonkin, only Felipe Bellido, playing mainly out of the No. 5 flight, has logged more results on the left side of the column.