The Wisconsin men's tennis team registered a significant early-season victory as it stunned No. 10 Miami (Fla.) by gutting out a 4-3 decision on Monday afternoon in Coral Gables, Fla.
With the match score dead even at 3-3 and only the No. 2 singles spot left to finish, the spotlight was placed upon Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.), and the junior did not disappoint.
Facing Josh Cohen, who has been a top nationally-ranked player throughout his tennis career, Polley dropped the first set, 3-6. Amidst winds that reached 21 mph, Polley was unfazed, bouncing back to take the second set, 6-4.
In a highly intense third set, Polley got up a break at the start, but was later broken by Cohen. With Polley down 6-5 and on the brink of a loss, both players took an injury timeout due to cramps.
Once play resumed, Polley was able to hold serve and send the match to a tiebreaker. It was all Polley from there, as the lefty stepped his game up a notch and won the tiebreaker, 7-3, claiming the team victory along the way.
The match was in Nolans hands, and it was great to see him step up, Van Emburgh said. I knew that Nolan would have the heart and passion to get the win. Both guys were cramping at the end, and it was just a matter of who wanted it more. Nolan dug deep and took it.
Wisconsins defeat of Miami (2-1) puts the Badgers at a perfect 4-0 on the young season.
The win over Miami shows that we are starting to believe in ourselves and are definitely an up-and-coming mens tennis program, Van Emburgh said. Im so proud of our guys and its really great to see them rewarded with a win against a top-10 team like Miami. Our players deserved it.
Mondays win, which came after the matchs postponement on Sunday due to poor weather conditions, was a true team effort.
Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany), a German import who was added to the UW roster just a month ago in January, was able to pull out a win at the No. 4 position against Hector Nieto, 6-4, 6-4. The lefty improved to a flawless 4-0 in 2007.
Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee, Wis.), placed at the No. 6 spot, came out of Miami with a win as well. The freshman, a three-time individual state singles champion in Wisconsin at Nicolet High School, beat Miamis J.C. Whitner with relative ease, 6-3, 6-2.
Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) played wonderfully in his first weekend back from an Achilles tendon injury, giving the perennially top-ranked Luigi DAgord a run for his money at No. 1 singles. Sonkin did, however, find the match just out of reach, falling to DAgord, 6-3, 7-6. Lachezar Kasarov (Burgas, Bulgaria) and Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru) were defeated as well.
Wisconsins fourth point came from their doubles victory over the Hurricanes. At No. 2, Jeremy Sonkin and Lachezar Kasarov disposed of Hector Nieto and Daniel Valverdu, 8-4.
Michael Dierberger and Michael Muskievicz (Homewood, Ill.) clinched the doubles point by defeating Vivek Subramanian and Barnabas Carrega, 8-5, at No. 3.
Nolan Polley and Moritz Baumanns 8-5 loss to Luigi DAgord and Josh Cohen proved to be irrelevant.
Looking back at todays match, I can say that it was certainly one of the best college matches Ive ever been a part of, Van Emburgh said. It was great for not only our mens tennis program, but also for UW athletics as a whole. Were all smiles right now.
The Badgers will not be able to bask in the glory of Mondays win for too long. Their focus will now shift to their Feb. 11 match up against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are currently ranked No. 11 in the nation, just one spot behind Miami. Play against Notre Dame will take place in Madison at Nielsen Tennis Stadium at noon this Sunday.