The No. 34 University of Wisconsin mens tennis team got all it could handle in a 4-3 win over Minnesota Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Championship in Iowa City, Iowa. It was less than two weeks ago that the Badgers swept the Golden Gophers 7-0, but tonight Wisconsin had to rally as things went down to the wire.
The second-seeded Badgers got on the board first by winning the doubles point.
Senior Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) and sophomore Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany) got things started for the Badgers at No. 1 doubles. They took down the team of Dino Bilankov and Sebastian Gallego, 8-2. The victory moved the Badger duo to 7-6 at No. 1 doubles and 13-10 overall.
Minnesota, the No. 7 seed, evened things up though with a win at No. 3 doubles. Raoul Schwark and Pierre Dumas defeated the Wisconsin pair of senior Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) and sophomore Marek Michalicka (Ricany, Czech Republic), 8-6. The loss puts Sonkin and Michalicka at 4-2 at the No. 3 spot and 4-4 overall.
The doubles point then came down to the match at No. 2. Wisconsins team of sophomores Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Luke Rassow-Kantor (Westport, Conn.) squared off against the Minnesota pairing of Chi-Lang Pham and Tobias Wernet. Dierberger and Rassow-Kantor proved victorious, scoring the 8-5 decision and giving Wisconsin a 1-0 lead.
The lead became when 2-0 Wisconsin when Baumann got the win at No. 1 singles. Ranked 47th, Baumann took down Schwark, himself ranked No. 91. Baumann took the first set 6-3, and followed it up by taking the second set 6-4. The win pushes him to an 11-9 record overall and at the No. 1 spot.
Minnesota cut the lead to 2-1 with a win at No. 4 singles. Bilankov downed Sonkin in straight sets, 7-5, 7-5. The loss drops Sonkin to 9-12 on the season and 7-7 at the No. 4 position.
The Golden Gophers were able to even the match at 2-2 with their victory at No. 6 singles. Dumas faced off against Rassow-Kantor and took the opening set 6-4. Rassow-Kantor answered back and won the second set 6-2. Down to the third set, Dumas pulled out a 7-5 victory. The loss puts Rassow-Kantor at 2-3 at the No. 6 spot and 5-8 overall.
Minnesota pulled ahead 3-2 after Wernet scored a win at No. 2 singles. Facing No. 98 Polley, Wernet won in straight sets 7-5, 7-6. The loss snaps a three-match winning streak for Polley and drops his record to 10-5 at No. 2 singles and 17-5 overall.
The Badgers kept the match alive and made it 3-3 when Michalicka scored a comeback win at No. 3 singles. Michalicka, ranked No. 124, took the first set against Gallego 6-1, but Gallego answered back and won 6-3 in set number two. Michalicka was able to rebound though and win the final set 6-4 to improve his record to 10-1 at No. 3 singles and 21-2 on the season.
With the match tied at 3-3, it all came down to the match at No. 5 singles where Wisconsin senior Felipe Bellido took on Pham. The first set went to Pham 6-4, but Bellido fought back and won 6-2 in the second set. Down to the final set, Pham moved out to a 2-0 lead. Bellido again rallied and prevailed with a 6-4 win to give the Badgers the win and move himself to a record of 8-3 at No. 5 singles and 13-5 overall.
Wisconsin moves on to the semifinals now where it will face third-seeded Illinois. The Illini advanced with a 4-0 win over Indiana. Wisconsin defeated Illinois earlier this season 5-2 to snap a 16-match losing streak against the Illini. Saturdays match is scheduled for 2 p.m. Fans can follow all the action from the tournament by clicking here .