The No. 34 University of Wisconsin mens tennis team saw its run at the Big Ten Championship end with a semifinal loss to No. 15, and third-seeded, Illinois 4-1 Saturday afternoon in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin, the No. 2 seed, fell in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Illinois, whom Wisconsin had beaten 5-2 on March 30, took a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point.
The Badgers (17-9) took the early advantage by winning at No. 1 doubles. Senior Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) and sophomore Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany) took down the 11th-ranked Illinois team of Billy Heiser and Ryan Rowe, 8-3. The victory pushed the Wisconsin duo to 8-6 at No. 1 doubles and 14-10 overall.
Illinois evened things up with a win at No. 2 doubles. Ruben Gonzales and Marc Spicijaric defeated the Wisconsin pair of sophomores Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Luke Rassow-Kantor (Westport, Conn.), 8-3. The loss puts Dierberger and Rassow-Kantor at 4-4 at No. 2 doubles and 5-5 on the season.
The clinching doubles point came with an Illini victory at No. 3 doubles. Brandon Davis and Waylon Chin knocked off the Wisconsin team of senior Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) and sophomore Marek Michalicka (Ricany, Czech Republic) by a score of 8-1. The loss drops Sonkin and Michalicka to 4-3 at the No. 3 spot and 4-5 overall.
The lead grew to 2-0 in favor of Illinois when Roy Kalmanovich got the win at No. 5 singles. Kalmanovich topped Wisconsin senior Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru), 6-2, 6-3. Bellidos record falls to 8-4 at the No. 5 position and 13-6 on the season.
The Illini pushed the lead to 3-0 with a victory at No. 1 singles. It was a battle of nationally-ranked opponents as No. 47 Baumann faced off against No. 19 Rowe. The first set went to Rowe 6-2, and he followed it up with 6-3 win in the second set. Baumann drops his record to 11-10 overall and at the No. 1 spot.
Wisconsin got on the board with a win at No. 3 singles. Michalicka scored the win over Spicijaric in straight sets. In the first set, Michalicka prevailed 7-5, while the second set proved easier as he won 6-1. The win improved Michalickas record to 22-2 on the year and 11-1 at the No. 3 position.
Illinois got the match-clinching point with a victory at No. 2 singles. It was another battle between nationally-ranked players as Polley, No. 98, squared off against Gonzales, No. 48. Gonzales took the first set 7-5 and followed it up with a 6-2 win in the second set. Polley dropped his second straight match and saw his record fall to 10-6 at the No. 2 position and 17-6 overall.
The Badgers will now have to wait to find out if they are selected to the NCAA Championship. The announcements will air on Tuesday, April 29 between 1 and 1:30 p.m. (CT) and air live on ESPNews.