Finally putting an end to a six-match losing streak, Wisconsin split its weekend against Purdue and Indiana.
En route to a 5-2 win over No. 47 Indiana (15-8, 4-5 Big Ten) Sunday, the Badgers (11-10, 2-7 Big Ten) came out running, taking the doubles point from the Hoosiers to start the match and taking four of six singles points.
In doubles play, Indiana and Wisconsin each won a game in the first two matches, bringing the doubles point down to the match between UW’s team of Angela Chupa and Sarah Loebel against IU’s Leslie Hureau and Shannon Murdy.
Chupa and Loebel found themselves in a 4-0 hole early, but fought back, winning the match 8-6 and taking the doubles point for Wisconsin.
Head coach Brian Fleishman couldn’t be happier for the Chupa and Loebel’s big win.
“That was a huge breakthrough for those two girls today,” Fleishman said. “Anytime you can get players to keep believing, even though they are down, is huge.”
The Badgers took the momentum from the doubles win and continued it in doubles play taking four of the six points from the Hoosiers.
The singles play was highlighted by the huge win by UW’s redshirt senior Alaina Trgovich over No. 65 Leslie Hureau.
Trgovich got the match started by taking the first set, 6-4. Hureau then made a charge, taking the second set but Trgovich shut the door in the third set to win, 6-2.
Trgovich said she was playing inspired tennis in the match on Sunday with a participant from Wish Upon A Badger, a 12-year-old girl with leukemia, as the source for her inspiration.
“Honestly, I kept thinking of Alexis,” said Trgovich. “She was a huge inspiration today. When I wanted to get mad in the third set I thought of her. That was what got me through it and make more balls.”
In the No. 3 singles position Junior Hannah Berner picked up the fourth and match-winning point for the Badgers through three sets.
With the win on Sunday, Wisconsin picked up its first win over Indiana under Fleishman and earned its second Big Ten win on the year.
Fleishman knew it was a huge win for the team and hopes it is a sign of things to come late in the season.
“The win was so big,” Fleishman said. “It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we have beaten Indiana. The girls just have to keep believing. Even though we were on a losing streak and even though [Indiana] was ranked and they were good, we just have to keep believing.
“The team realizes now that we can start our season here, we are 1-0 right now going into Iowa. We can forget about what has happened up to this point in the season and build off of this win.”
But before Wisconsin could snap that losing streak, it gave up one more match Friday when the Badgers dropped their sixth straight match to the No. 34 Purdue Boilermakers, losing 5-2.
The intensity level was high between the Badgers and Boilermakers with arguments between opposing players and many rackets being abused against the walls and court.
The Badgers rose to the challenge sending three matches into tie-breaks.
Regardless of their efforts, in the end it was Purdue (13-4, 6-3 Big Ten) that came out on top earning the doubles point and four of the six available singles points.
Fleishman was disappointed with the loss but realized how good of a team Purdue is and liked the way his team fought.
“I thought we competed extremely hard against a top 40 team,” Fleishman said. “[Purdue] is a good team. I think they are right up there with Michigan and Northwestern. They are a very strong team, and I thought we competed well against them.
“We put ourselves in a position to do good things. Some of the girls took advantage of it and some of the girls let it slip away. I think this is just going to make us tougher.”
Spohomore Nicky Stracar and freshman Sarah Loebel were able to pick up two points for UW in singles play. Stracar’s match versus Purdue’s Mara Schmidt went to a super tie breaker where Stracar was able to come out on top.
Later, Stracar embraced the intensity of the match saying she used it to her advantage.
“I really wanted to win,” Stracar said. “There were a couple of overrules, she got overruled a couple of times and then [Schmidt] said some not very nice things which got me a little heated. I tried to focus through it and get the win. I feel like [Schmidt’s trash talk] gave me a boost because then I was really pissed off and want to win even more.”