The No. 30 University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team will have to put their 7-0 loss to Big Ten rival No. 2 Ohio State behind them quickly as they prepare to face Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament this Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The last time the Badgers faced the Hawkeyes resulted in a 5-2 win on April 11 in Madison. In that match, both the Wisconsin No. 3 and No. 2 doubles teams beat their counterparts on the other side of the net. Overall, the Hawkeyes finished the season tied with Wisconsin for seventh in the conference with a 4-6 record.
“We’re looking forward to the Big Ten Tournament starting on Thursday,” head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. “We play Iowa in the first round. I think our conference this year has been really strong throughout, and we had a tough go at it at some matches. (We) finished tied for seventh, which is a little disappointing for us because I think we’re better than that. Our conference is real strong this year. We’ve lost, I think, four out of five 4-3 matches, and all of those matches were three sets. So, it’s kind of tough when you look at those stats and look at those numbers. You always kind of play the card where it could have been.”
Players not playing to their potential
Despite a strong start to their season — including wins over No. 23 Wake Forest on Feb. 22 and No. 25 Notre Dame the following weekend, which broke a 10-year losing streak to the Irish — the Badgers have faltered down the stretch. They have lost their last three matches, including one at home against cross-border rival Minnesota and their final two on the road.
Even though they were shut out last weekend against the Buckeyes, Van Emburgh is still confident his team will come together once the postseason starts.
“You know, I think we’ve kind of run into some unfortunate times throughout our lineup,” Van Emburgh said. “I think the thing with our team is we’re strong at all our spots, and all of our spots haven’t really had the success that we might have thought that they would have. And there’s still some time left in the season, and you can’t really dwell on what’s happened in the past. You just got to kind of get through today and get through tomorrow, have a couple of good days of practice before we play on Thursday. And if we take care of Iowa, play loose against Ohio State, and, you know, we still have the NCAA team championships to look forward to.”
In their loss last weekend to Ohio State, Wisconsin junior Moritz Baumann did not play in his usual role in the No. 1 or No. 2 singles spot, but still played No. 1 doubles with teammate Marek Michalicka. They were defeated 8-6.
“He wasn’t 100 percent, so we didn’t feel like we should do that with him from the season that he’s had, as far as the success and the longevity that it’s been,” Van Emburgh said. “So I want to keep him fresh and healthy for the match on Thursday.”
This season, Baumann has been essential to the Badgers’ early season success. He is currently ranked No. 31in the nation in singles and has had five wins over ranked opponents.