After losing three consecutive matches, the Wisconsin men’s tennis team washed away that sour taste in its mouth by delivering a decisive 6-1 victory over in-state rival Marquette in the Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
“I think overall it was a good performance for us; it got us back on track — where we wanted to be,” UW head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. “I felt like maybe we had a little blunder here and there, but I thought in the doubles and singles we played at a high level of intensity.
“I felt the guys were really geared into playing their matches, and they wanted to go out there and try to win every point.”
The Badgers, who had lost the doubles point in three of their last four games, quickly established the tone of the dual with two solid victories in doubles.
At No. 3 doubles, senior Michael Dierberger and freshman Ricardo Martin displayed great teamwork as they dismantled Marquette’s Niko Boulieris and Otavio Perim 8-1. Dierberger and Martin stayed calm and composed throughout, with an astute focus that led to the victory.
“The doubles were good; we came out there really fired up, ready to play,” Dierberger said. “We wanted to win and get that doubles point and head into singles up 1-0.”
On the neighboring court, in No. 1 doubles, senior Moritz Baumann and sophomore Patrick Pohlmann delivered an identical result, winning 8-1. Baumann and Pohlmann seemed pleased with their performance, releasing a few smiles during play.
Senior Luke Rassow-Kantor and junior Marek Michalicka fell 8-4, however, to wrap up doubles play.
Five of six Badgers kept the trend alive by winning their first set of singles. No. 21 Michalicka won a tough, yet decisive match against Marquette’s sole ranked player, No. 84 Dusan Medan.
Though Michalicka won 6-3, 6-4, Medan offered a formidable challenge by getting the jump on Michalicka in both games with early leads. But with lengthy volleys Michalicka was able to win the lead back and keep his singles record as spotless as ever this season, moving to a 9-0 record.
“I didn’t have a good start; I was down a break right away,” Michalicka said. “But he didn’t serve too well, so I started breaking him down and was able to win it.
“Sometimes it’s tough for me to keep focus and concentrate all the time, but I just have to work on that.”
Although Marquette continued to demonstrate determination, Wisconsin was able to turn the Golden Eagles away. No. 13 Baumann, after defeating Mark Rutherford with ease 6-2, witnessed how fast MU can turn things around.
Rutherford leaped to a quick 4-1 lead in the second set and was pressing for the third. Baumann, however, never let panic set in and retaliated with five consecutive games to put away the No. 2 singles.
“I was down 1-4 and just tried to get back on track and refocus, and I just played from there,” Baumann said. “I’m not happy about my match… I didn’t play my best tennis, but I’m happy to get through it and get the win.”
Freshmen Billy Bertha and Chris Freeman — along with Pohlmann — would also record singles victories in two sets for the Badgers to solidify the team win.
Dierberger, in a valiant effort to shutout the Golden Eagles, ultimately came up just shy against Perim. Facing match point in the third set, Dierberger fought hard to come back from a 5-2 deficit to force a tiebreaker, but Perim was able to outlast the comeback, winning 7-6.
“Even though Dierberger didn’t come through and get that win, I thought he fought his butt off,” Van Emburgh said. “He was down 5-2 in the third and came back and lost it in a tiebreaker. It was unfortunate for him not to win that.”