The 33rd-ranked University of Wisconsin mens tennis team rallied to top No. 32 Washington in a tight 4-1 victory in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA Division I Mens Tennis Championships Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The victory marks the second year in a row that the Badgers topped the Huskies to advance to the second round. Last year, Wisconsin won 4-3 to move to the second round for the first time in school history.
It was just another signature win for the guys, head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. It was a total team effort, 1-6.
The win was especially nice for Van Emburgh as Saturday was his birthday.
I couldnt have asked for a better birthday present, he said.
Wisconsin (18-9) had to dig out of an early hole though as Washington (14-10) swept all three doubles matches.
The Huskies took the early advantage with a win at No. 1 doubles. Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan topped the 49th-ranked team of senior Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.) and sophomore Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany), 8-3. The loss snapped a five-match winning streak for the Badger duo. They fall to 14-11 overall this year, including a 10-8 mark in dual matches and an 8-7 record at the No. 1 spot.
The clinching doubles point came with Washingtons win at No. 3 doubles. Martin Kildahl and Tobi Obenaus paired up and defeated the Wisconsin pair of senior Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) and freshman Marek Michalicka (Ricany, Czech Republic), 8-2. Sonkin and Michalicka now have a 4-6 record on the year and in dual matches, while going 4-4 at No. 3 doubles.
The match at No. 2 doubles between the Wisconsin duo of sophomores Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Luke Rassow-Kantor (Westport, Conn.) and Washingtons Derek Drabble and Andy Kuharszky was suspended due to the doubles point already being decided. Drabble and Kuharszky led the match 6-4 when it was stopped.
The guys came out a little flat in doubles, but we met and they really came together after that, Van Emburgh said.
Wisconsin was able to rally from the deficit by winning four straight singles matches.
Senior Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru) got things going with a win at No. 6 singles. Facing Kildahl, Bellido won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. He improves his record to 14-8 overall, 14-6 in dual matches, and 5-2 at the No. 6 spot. The victory was the fifth for Bellido in his last six matches.
The lead grew to 2-1 in favor of Wisconsin when Baumann won for the fourth time in five matches by taking down Fischer in a match-up of nationally-ranked players. Baumann, ranked 50th, topped No. 94 Fischer 6-4, 6-4. Baumanns record now stands at 19-13 overall and 12-10 in dual matches and at the No. 1 position.
Sonkin pushed the lead to 3-1 with his win at No. 4 singles. Facing Drabble, Sonkin took control early with a 7-5 win in the first set. Drabble fought back though and prevailed 6-3 in the second set. The third set was tied at 3-3, but Sonkin was able to finish Drabble off for a 6-4 win. The victory puts Sonkins record at 13-17 overall, 10-12 in dual matches and 8-7 at the No. 4 spot.
Michalicka, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, came through with the decisive win for the Badgers. He dropped the first set to Kuharszky 4-6, but bounced back and won the second set 6-2. In the third and final set, Michalicka won 7-5 to continue his stellar season. After winning his sixth match in a row, Michalickas record is now 23-2 overall and in dual matches and 12-1 at the No. 3 position.
With the team match already decided, the remaining two singles matches were stopped early. At No. 2 singles, Polley led Nedunchezhiyan 7-6 (8), 4-6, 2-0, while at No. 5 singles David Chu of Washington led Dierberger 4-6, 6-4, 5-1.
The Badgers return to action tomorrow for a second round match against the winner of host, and third-seeded, UCLA (21-1) and Eastern Washington (18-6). Match time is set for 3 p.m. (CT) at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Fans can follow live stats by clicking here .