Madison fell to Marquette Thursday Feb. 6, battling to the end at Nielsen Tennis Stadium before falling 4–2.
Wisconsin trailed 3–2, with only two matches left to play — court two had Badger Gabriel Huber matched up with Marquette’s Luis Heredia Gomez, and court six had Badger Robert Krill against Stefan Dragovic.
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Wisconsin needed both matches to win whereas Marquette only needed one. As the Huber-Gomez match moved into a tie-breaker set, the fans grew silent. Huber and Gomez exchanged a rally of groundstrokes, the ball just gliding over the net, until Gomez — a tall and powerfully built Spaniard — managed to put enough oomph on the ball and Huber could only return it into the net.
On court six, Krill was still working his grinder-style game on Dragovic, returning ball after ball down the middle, hoping to force Dragovic to make an error.
There was a hush as Gomez scored twice. But Huber responded, forcing Gomez to hit the ball into the net twice, tying the set. The two big-hitters began a battle of power, laying down heavy groundstrokes, rushing the net whenever their opponent faltered. Soon it was 8–8.
Gomez put up another point. 9–8. The Badger tennis team sent Huber a rousing cheer. Gomez faulted. He served again, this time the ball making it in bounds. Huber returned it and the two moved into a rally. Huber’s return only just clipped the top of the net, the ball sailing high, before bouncing back on Huber’s side, ensuring a Marquette victory, 10–8. With the point, Marquette won the match 4–2.
After embracing their two weary teammates, the tennis teams migrated over to court six, where Krill and Dragovic were beginning their tie-breaker set. The line judge called the game, and the two teams shook hands.
This was only the fourth time in 59 games Madison has lost against Marquette. Their last loss was in 1995.
“As of late we had their number, but we knew today they were going to have a really good chance,” Madison’s head coach Danny Westerman said. “That doubles points was huge. We didn’t play great doubles, that’s the one part I would like back from this [game] and we gotta learn from that, but for singles? We split the first six sets.”
Marquette won both doubles sets, with Brett Meyers and Fran San Andres beating Wisconsin’s Huber and Robin Parts, 6–4. Marquette’s Dragovic and Brandon Shanklin also handed Jesper Freimuth and Lenard Soha their first doubles loss of the season.
For singles, only Freimuth and Jared Pratt were able to give the Badgers any points. Pratt defeated San Andres 6–2, 6–3, and Freimuth bested Shanklin 6–2, 6–3.
The Badgers next play USC Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. The match will take place at Nielsen Tennis Stadium. It will be Wisconsin’s final match before they host the ITA Tennis Championships at Nielsen Tennis Stadium, Feb. 14-17.