The University of Wisconsin mens tennis team split six singles matches with No. 5 Illinois but could not a avoid a 4-3 loss Saturday afternoon at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
The most important thing is that the guys laid it all out on the line today, head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. Were a young team and were competing every time we get out on the court. Today, we had our shot. We saw how close we can come to a top five team.
A trio of UW sophomores knocked off Illini singles players to lead Wisconsin (9-10, 2-6 Big Ten).
Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru) defeated Marc Spicijaric in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) earned his second victory against a ranked opponent by beating #64 G.D. Jones 7-6 (9), 6-1 in No. 2 singles. Elliott Bisnow (Bethesda, Md.) earned his first singles victory in Big Ten play this season, defeating Brandon Davis in three sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
(Our sophomores) anchored our performance today, Van Emburgh said. We keyed on them to get points. We built around them and hoped the other guys would step up and get victories. When this happens, the winning will take place.
Wisconsin came close to claiming the elusive fourth point but could win the third set in the other three matches. After losing their respective first sets, both Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) and Lachezar Kasarov (Burgas, Bulgaria) recovered to win the second set but could not finish their comeback efforts successfully. Sonkin lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to #3 Ryler DeHeart in the No. 1 match while Kasarov was defeated by Ruben Gonzales in No. 3 6-2, 6-7, 6-2.
In doubles, the Badgers gave the Illini a difficult time in the Nos. 1 and 2 slots to begin the match but could not manage a victory. The #55 doubles team of Polley and Sonkin were tied 4-4 with Illinois #17 duo of Ryler DeHeart and Pramod Dabir but could not pull out their 10th doubles win, losing 8-8 (4). Polley and Sonkin are now 9-3 this season.
Bellido and Kasarov were tied twice with Illinois Jones and Spicijaric at 4-4 and 5-5 but could not keep their momentum and lost only their second match of the season, 9-7. The duo of Bellido and Kasarov is 8-3 this season.
These guys are seeing the potential they have and what were trying to create, Van Emburgh said. We want to get a couple more wins this year and build momentum. The one thing that we dont want to do is underestimate Purdue in tomorrows match because we played a top-five team like Illinois close. We want to focus on tomorrows match because thats most important.