Sophomore Jeremy Sonkin saved five consecutive match points in the final match of singles play to key Wisconsins 4-3 upset of No. 51 Northwestern Saturday afternoon at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
Wisconsin (4-3, 1-0 Big Ten) got its first win against Northwestern (5-6, 0-1 Big Ten) since 1991 by winning four of six singles matches.
Going into this match, we knew it was going to be an absolute dog fight, said head coach Greg Van Emburgh. (Northwestern) is a good team, theyre well coached. We felt like we really needed to come in here and compete hard and not let the 4-3 loss to Western Michigan or the close match against Notre Dame set us back. I think we gained momentum from that and we really used it today.
After dropping the first set, Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) found himself down 5-0 in the second set and came back to defeat Christian Tempke 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in No. 1 singles. Sonkins second-set comeback in his fifth win of the season not only swung momentum of the match but the entire meet.
It was a tough match, Sonkin said. A lot of things were not going my way. (Tempke) was getting a lot of net rolls and frame winners so I just had to stay positive. I just kept plugging away then I got it back to 5-4 and everything started to shift my way.
Wisconsins other three singles victories were in straight sets. Lachezar Kasarov (Burgas, Bulgaria) earned his third consecutive No. 4 singles victory against Marc Dwyer, 6-4, 6-1. Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) beat Juan Gomez 6-4, 6-4 in the No. 3 match while Felipe Bellido defeated Matt Christian 6-1, 6-2 in No. 5.
In the meets other three-set match, freshman Gian Hodgson (Savaneta, Aruba) got off to a quick start against Adam Schaechterle by winning the first set 7-5 but could not earn a victory (5-7, 6-2, 6-4).
Wisconsin lost the doubles point for the fourth consecutive meet, Kasarov and Sonkin earned the only win. The tandem earned their first win in the No. 2 slot this season against Tempke and Lock (8-4) and improved to 4-3 overall.
Wisconsin continues its Big Ten Conference season at 6 p.m. Friday against No. 75 Michigan State in Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
(The Big Ten Men's Tennis Protest Committee reviewed the appeal filed by Northwestern regarding the placement of the No. 2 and No. 3 singles players and the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams in the Wisconsin lineup during their Feb. 18 dual match.
The ruling of the committee is that Wisconsin did violate ITA Rule II.K.3, which states that "Players must play in order of ability." Northwestern received a win by default at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles. As a result, the final match score will be a 4-3 Northwestern win.)