The UW mens tennis team made history on Thursday afternoon, advancing past the first round in the NCAA tournament, a feat the program had never accomplished. No. 38 Wisconsins historical match came in the form of a tight, 4-3 win over No. 32 Washington in South Bend, Ind.
The win, especially with it being our first ever advancement in the NCAA tourney, meant a whole lot to the guys, head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. In the big picture, however, theyre not yet satisfied. While well enjoy the win, we need to get ready to battle tomorrow.
The win advances UW (16-10) to the second round of the NCAA tournament where it will face No. 5 Notre Dame (25-3) at 2 p.m. tomorrow, May 12, at the Fighting Irishs home court.
Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven format, Wisconsins season was on the line with junior Nolan Polley (Lexington, Ky.), senior team captain Lachezar Kasarov (Burgas, Bulgaria) and freshman sensation Moritz Baumann (Inzlingen, Germany) as the teams last hopes. A loss by any of the three would have concluded UWs season, but they were each able to pull through in the clutch to eliminate the Huskies (16-7).
Polley was the first to finish. After getting by in a tough first set, 7-6 (7-3), against Andy Kuharsky, Polley left no doubt in the second set, claiming the No. 3 spot with a 6-1 win. The victory tightened the overall match score to 3-2 in Washingtons favor.
Playing at the No. 4 position, Kasarov followed Polleys lead. After dropping the first set, 6-3, to Patrik Fischer, Kasarov willed his way to a close, 7-6 (8-6) win in the second. The senior then used his momentum to control the third set and win, 6-2.
Lance showed a phenomenal will to win today, Van Emburgh said. After losing the first set, he said that he wasnt ready to end his college career yet. He then fought back in the second set and steamrolled into the third to notch a win.
With the match tied at 3-3, UWs fate rested on No. 108 Baumanns shoulders. The freshman, who joined Wisconsin in January, did not disappoint. Facing Washingtons star, No. 64 Alex Slovic, at the No. 1 spot, the lefty faltered in the second set, 6-4, after winning the first, 7-5. That meant the third set would be the matchs clincher, and with a 6-4 win, Baumanns victory advanced UW to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The guys embraced Moritz after he clinched the match, Van Emburgh said. It was a tough win for him to pull out, but hes just so good when hes at his peak. He can be unbeatable at times.
Prior to the final three matches, Jeremy Sonkin (Wheaton, Ill.) recorded a straight-set win over Daniel Chu. With Sonkins 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Chu, the Badgers compiled wins in the top four spots of the lineup.
Wisconsin was unable to pull out wins at Nos. 5 and 6. Felipe Bellido (Lima, Peru) was defeated by Derek Drabble, 6-3, 6-0, at No. 5 and Gian Hodgson took a loss against Mike Ricks, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9), at No. 6.
Washington was also able to get the upper hand over UW in doubles competition.
Patrik Fischer and Mike Ricks 8-2 win over Michael Dierberger (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Nolan Polley at No. 2 coupled with Adam Kuharsky and Derek Drabbles 8-0 victory against Michael Muskievicz (Homewood, Ill.) and Jeremy Sonkin at No. 3 gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead in the match. Moritz Baumann and Lachezar Kasarovs match at No. 1 against Alex Slavic and Daniel Chu was abandoned at a 5-5 score.
As one of just 32 teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, Wisconsins focus now shifts to No. 5 Notre Dame. The second round contest will be a rematch of the two teams battle in Madison earlier in the year on Feb. 11. The Badgers claimed the doubles point in that meeting and played the Fighting Irish tough at every singles spot. UW, however, was only able to notch one singles victory, losing the match, 5-2.
Notre dame knows what level were capable of playing at and theyll be ready tomorrow, Van Emburgh said. I think we can play even better than we did today, and if we play our best tennis across the board, we certainly have a shot at pulling off the upset.
Wisconsin and Notre Dames match will take place at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Notre Dames home court in South Bend, Ind.
Live statistics for the match can be found here .