The No. 29 Wisconsin mens tennis team put up a valiant effort on Sunday afternoon in Champaign, Ill., against powerhouse No. 5 Illinois, but could not quite muster a win, losing, 5-2.
While the Badgers fell short of the ultimate goal of a team victory, they did put forth several impressive individual efforts, highlighted by Jeremy Sonkins win over one of the nations top players, No. 8 Ryan Rowe.
Illinois (10-3, 3-0) wasted no time in putting the pressure on UW (8-3, 2-2). After sweeping UW in doubles play by winning all three matches, the Fighting Illini also won the first two singles matches. No. 6 Kevin Anderson was up 6-0, 2-0 on Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) before Polley retired and GD Jones defeated Lachezar Kasarov (Burgas, Bulgaria), 6-1, 6-4, to put Wisconsin just one match away from a loss.
The Badgers, however, would not give without a fight.
On the brink of defeat, Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru) struck back, downing Jordan Knue in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.
Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) followed with a huge win at No. 2 singles. Playing in his home state, Sonkin took care of Ryan Rowe, ranked No. 8 in the nation. After getting through a tight first set, 7-5, Sonkin finished Rowe off with relative ease, winning the second set, 6-2.
Now down just 3-2 in the dual, Wisconsin had a glimmer of hope to pull off the win, though it did not last for long. Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany) fought back against Marc Spicijaric, taking the second set, 6-2, after dropping the first, 7-6. UWs run at the upset, however, would end there. Spicjaric won the third set, 6-2, giving Illinois its clinching fourth win.
Brandon Davis then closed out the dual by giving Illinois its fifth win of the match, coming back in three sets to beat Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee,Wis.), 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
UW will look to bounce back next week, when it participates in the Blue-Gray Invitational in Montgomery, Ala., from March 15 to 18.