The Wisconsin women’s tennis team opens the heart of their Big Ten run this weekend with a tour of Michigan.
The Badgers (9-4, 0-1 Big Ten) face off with No. 20 Michigan on Saturday and finish the weekend off with a visit to Michigan State.
Michigan (8-5, 1-0 Big Ten) has played eight out of its 13 matches against ranked opponents and is coming off of a 5-2 victory over No. 17 Notre Dame Wednesday.
Badger head coach Brian Fleishman hopes to keep the match close and avoid the knockout punch that Michigan has given Wisconsin in the past.
“We always play Michigan very competitively,” Fleishman said. “We usually keep it tight and then there is a turning point in the match where Michigan has kind of rolled over us in the past couple of years. But there is a turning point in the match where if we can stay strong, stay focused and believe in our game, then we should do fine against them.”
Wisconsin lost to the Wolverines last season 6-1 and hasn’t beaten them since 2005.
Michigan features its freshman No.1 singles player, Emina Bektas, who is 9-1 on the season and is ranked 10th in the country in singles play.
“Emina was a big time recruit coming out last year,” Fleishman said. “She’s a big girl; she’s 6-foot-2. But she is a freshman so she has some things in her game that you can exploit. You have to get her big serve back. If you get the big serve back, you are in the match.”
Redshirt senior Alaina Trgovich is going into the match on Saturday against Michigan with a five-match winning streak in singles play.
Trgovich said she is not thinking about her success while trying to stay relaxed and focused.
“I really don’t try to think about it. I think the key for me is just to stay relaxed and not put any pressure on myself,” Trgovich said. “I’ve done that better this year than I have any other year.”
In doubles play, Wisconsin’s Trgovich and Hannah Berner have won four out of their last five matches.
Trgovich attributes the pair’s success to the strength of their relationship.
“Hannah and I have a ton of fun together,” Trgovich said. “[Hannah] is one of my closest friends. So, just staying relaxed out there and fighting has really helped us. We have a lot of energy together and our chemistry is the reason why we’ve been having so much success.”
Berner and Trgovich have a difficult task ahead of them on Saturday where they will likely be matched up with the Wolverine’s Bektas and Brooke Bolender, a pair ranked seventh in the country for doubles play.
Berner is not intimidated with the success of the Michigan pair and is looking at the challenge as a chance to prove themselves.
“Playing one doubles with Alaina, we’ve been playing a lot of competitive teams,” Berner said. “We really look forward to playing the better teams, especially the ranked teams. So it’s going to be fun.”
Berner and Trgovich are 9-3 on the year and are 2-2 against ranked doubles pairs this season, including a win over the No. 31 pair from Minnesota.
On Sunday, the Badgers wrap up their trip to Michigan in a match with Michigan State (8-4, 0-1 Big Ten) – a team Wisconsin shut out in its only meeting last year 7-0.
The Spartans are coming off of a 7-0 shutout of Ball State last weekend.
“Michigan State is always dangerous, always fired up to play us,” Fleishman said. “We just have to be ready and make sure we play up to our ability.”