While the University of Wisconsin-Madison men’s tennis team have performed solidly since the new year, beating teams like UW-Green Bay and East Tennessee State handily, they have folded to fellow larger programs like No. 14 Mississippi State University and unranked University of Kentucky.
In each of those matches, the Badgers lost 4-1, claiming the doubles point via the formidable No. 3 in the nation pairing of seniors Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge, but failing to capitalize in any of the singles matches.
In the Mississippi State match, the Badgers lack of firepower was especially apparent, given that their opponents boasted four ranked singles players compared to Wisconsin’s none.
Against Oregon, they will also face a deficit on paper, but not a huge one. Oregon, too, has been handily beating the small fries but struggling to defeat any whoppers.
In the doubles, as long as the Badgers continue the play that has won them six points in a row, the 17 ranked Oregon’s No. 1 doubles team should not give them too much trouble.
In the singles column, though, the Badgers will have to use their veteran savvy to tough things out.
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Unranked Badger’s No. 1 singles Dodridge will have his hand’s full with Oregon’s best player, Thomas Laurent, a sophomore who is ranked as high as sixth in the nation. Dodridge will have to use all of his veteran savvy to eke out any sort of result against the uber-talented underclassmen.
After Laurent, though, the path grows easier. The remaining Badgers like Carranza and sophomore Daniel Soyfer will face off against a solid crew of likewise unranked players, all winnable matches if the Badgers play at their best.
After a rest day, the Badgers will head further up the Pacific Northwest to face off against the Washington Huskies, another big name unranked school that has beaten a bunch of smaller teams and even held No. 14 University of Michigan to a close 4-3 match.
The doubles frame should not be too bad for the Badgers given their run of recent play, and that Washington cannot boast any doubles pairing on the rankings ladder.
For singles, the best Huskie singles player is 48 ranked Jake Douglass, who took a match from a top 20 player against Michigan. Playing against Douglass will complete a very tough weekend for UW’s Dodridge.
After that, the path again grows easier, as the Badgers will face a team sans any other unranked members.
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Overall, this weekend will provide a nice middle ground in which this Badgers team can test their mettle. Oregon and Washington’s teams are talented no doubt, but not on the level of Mississippi State. If the Badgers can eke out a weekend sweep or even a split, it could prove to be the start of building some momentum going forward.