For a second straight weekend, No. 47 University of Wisconsin men’s tennis will remain at home and welcome No. 39 Penn State Friday and No. 3 Ohio State Sunday to the Nielsen Tennis Center.
After splitting last weekend’s matches against Michigan and Michigan State, the Badgers (14-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) are looking to make a late season push before Big Ten Tournament play begins April 28 in Minneapolis. The Badgers are currently tied for fifth place in the Big Ten standings with, coincidentally, the Nittany Lions and a win would give them sole position of the place.
The Badgers reached their highest wins total since the 2010 season, which was also the last time the team reached the NCAA Team Championship — where they bowed out in the Round of 16. Looking to reach the tournament for the first time in six years, the Badgers will have to take a step which head coach Danny Westerman reiterated after a 5-2 loss to No. 21 Michigan last weekend.
“First, you need to [be competitive in top-25 matches] and we’ve worked all season to be at that level,” Westerman said. “Now we need to close out these matches. We haven’t been in this situation enough times and hopefully we’ll learn from this one and be even better next week.”
With senior day Sunday, the Badgers hope to finally get over the hump and beat a top-25 opponent.
Men’s tennis: Learning experiences at UW go beyond the court for two seniorsThe University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team is slated for a decisive showdown against No. 33 Penn State Friday night, Read…
Friday 6 p.m. — No. 39 Penn State
The Nittany Lions (18-5 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) are coming off a shocking 4-0 loss to Indiana in Bloomington, who entered the ITA rankings this week at No. 70 as a result. The loss snapped a four game win streak which included two ranked wins, over No. 57 Purdue and No. 60 Iowa, and was the third time Penn State has been blanked this season.
Senior Matt Barry, who’s mostly occupied the third and fourth singles spots this season, held off his opponent to ensure that his match went unfinished. With that, Barry preserved his 13-5 record and moved into the ITA singles rankings at No. 123, while first singles player Leo Stakhovsky (15-7) lost in straight sets along with his No. 110 singles ranking.
Finding themselves in the same spot as the Badgers, the Nittany Lions are in need of some key wins down the stretch to ensure a clean path through the Big Ten Tournament and hopefully a run at the NCAA Team Championship.
Expect a gritty, hard-fought match between two programs in need of big wins, especially with Wisconsin going up against juggernaut Ohio State in its next match.
Sunday 12 p.m. — Ohio State
Ohio State (23-2 overall, 7-0 Big Ten) is riding a seven match win streak and not showing any signs of slowing down soon.
Six of those matches were 4-0 sweeps and the only points they gave up came in a 4-2 win over No. 20 Kentucky. The Buckeye’s last lost came nearly a month ago, a 4-2 defeat at the hands of No. 19 Georgia. The streak has propelled the team to the top of the Big Ten standings, where they are tied with Northwestern for first place.
Behind the surge is a collection of four ITA top-100 players: No. 2 Mikael Torpegaard, No. 36 Hugo Di Feo, No. 87 Chris Diaz and No. 92 Herkko Pollanen.
Torpegaard is undefeated this season (17-0) and has occupied the first singles spot for much of the season, which is unbelievable when looking at opponents he’s faced. The sophomore has 11 wins over ranked opponents, which includes four against top-25 players.
With the firepower it has at its disposal, Ohio State may be Wisconsin’s toughest test all season, comparable to TCU.