The No. 40 UW mens tennis team swept No. 41 Penn State, 4-0, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday afternoon at Schwartz Tennis Center in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Badgers second defeat of Penn State (16-6, 6-4) this season improved their record to 15-9 overall. Wisconsin will now move on to the Big Ten semifinals for the first time since 1994, where they will face the No. 1 seeded Ohio State, ranked No. 3 in the nation.
This was an important win for us, head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. Getting a chance to compete in the later rounds of a high-caliber tournament like this really shows that our program is heading in the right direction.
After squeaking through with a 4-3 win over Penn State earlier in the season, UW left no doubt over the outcome of Fridays match by nabbing the first four points.
We came ready to play right from the start, Van Emburgh said. It wasnt as easy as the final score might portray, as we were down a set at Nos. 4 and 5 singles in matches that didnt finish. Picking up the win is what counts though, and we were able to get it done.
Wisconsins victory was a result of strong play at the top of its lineup, as the contest was clinched before anyone from the bottom half of the lineup could finish a match.
No. 112 Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany) led things off for UW. Baumann, who was selected to the All-Big Ten team yesterday, proved his worthiness of the honor by fighting back from a first set loss to dominate the second and third sets. The freshman finished with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 defeat of No. 81 Michael James at No. 1 singles.
Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) followed Baumanns lead. Playing at No. 3 singles, Sonkin was able to nab a tough two-set win over Adam Slagter, 6-4, 7-6.
Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) then pulled through with the clincher for UW at the No. 2 position. After trading off the first two sets with Ryan Berger, Polley used a solid third set to steal the win, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Since the matchs outcome was decided after Polleys win, the matches at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles were abandoned.
At Nos. 4 and 5, Lachezar Kasarov (Burgas, Bulgaria) and Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru) had each dropped the first sets of their matches, 6-3, while Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee, Wis.) won, 6-4, in the first set of his contest.
The Badgers only needed three singles wins to claim the overall match because they were able to pick up the doubles point beforehand.
In the first two matches, Jeremy Sonkin and Michael Muskievicz (Homewood, Ill.) notched an 8-5 win over Brendan Lynch and Bradley Hunter at No. 3, while Moritz Baumann and Lachezar Kasarov dropped the No. 1 spot, 8-6, to Ryan Berger and Michael James.
That left the doubles point up for grabs and left to be decided at the No. 2 spot. Michael Dierberger and Nolan Polley were able to snatch it. The duos 8-6 triumph over James Dwyer and Adam Slagter allowed UW to head into singles play with a 1-0 lead.
The Badgers will now shift their focus to their semifinals matchup, where they will have their hands full with an Ohio State squad that went undefeated in the Big Ten and has lost just one match all season.
The match will take place at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Schwartz Tennis Center.
Hopefully we can use the momentum we picked up today to help us go in confident against OSU, Van Emburgh said. Theyre an incredibly solid team, but if we are ready to play and play loose, we have a real shot at pulling off a big win.
While Wisconsin did lose to Ohio State, 6-1, in the regular season, the match was tighter than the final score conveyed.
Moritz Baumanns defeat of No. 28 Devin Mullings at the No. 1 singles spot was accompanied by several close calls that didnt end up falling in UWs favor.
UW was unable to claim the doubles point after dropping the Nos. 1 and 2 spots by scores of 9-8. The Badgers also failed to take advantage of several close singles matches, most notably at the No. 2 position. After splitting the first two sets with No. 7 Steven Moneke, Nolan Polley let a 5-0 lead in the third slip away from him, eventually falling, 7-6.
Should the Badgers pull off the upset, they would move on to the championship match at 11 a.m. on Sunday.