March 24, 2013
MADISON, Wis. – Apparently the Wisconsin women’s tennis team doesn’t think that March Madness is something just for basketball, as it defeated Michigan State, 5-2, in a match full of the wild momentum swings, scrappy performances and senior leadership typically associated with college basketball’s annual tournament.
The win earned Wisconsin a 2-1 record in its three-match homestand, while also giving the Badgers (3-11, 1-2 BIG) their first win of the Big Ten Conference season.
“Michigan State was very scrappy today, and could have easily beaten us if our girls wouldn’t have made those great comebacks,” said head coach Brian Fleishman. “I think we showed mental toughness today. We dug down deep and just refused to lose.”
The day started with a thrilling battle for the doubles point, with the Spartans (10-8, 0-3 B1G) eventually coming out on top. The No. 3 match was the first to finish, with Julianne Gruber and Emily Meyers holding off Helen Rabot and Lauren Burich to capture an 8-6 victory in a back-and-forth match.
Already down 1-0 for the doubles point, and trailing 6-5 in the No. 1 match and 6-4 in the No. 3 match, it didn’t look good for the Badgers. But, both pairs rallied to put the doubles point in question.
First, UW’s No. 1 pairing of Hannah Berner and Lauren Chypyha fought back to win three of the final four games against Mariana Bohrer and Catherine Parenteau for an 8-6 win. Especially impressive was Wisconsin’s closing burst. With UW leading 7-6, MSU put pressure on the Badgers by taking a 40-15 lead in the game and earning two break points against Berner. But Wisconsin didn’t let the Spartans off the hook, winning five-straight points to close out and win the match.
Their win set up a rubber match at the No. 2 spot, where Katie Hoch and Anastasia Tripolskaya came back from a 6-4 hole against Nicole Herzog and Michaela Silesova to square the match up at six games apiece. The Spartans broke Hoch after sending the 13th game to deuce, and then held serve to close out the match, 8-6, and give the Spartans the doubles point by a 2-1 margin.
Wisconsin immediately erased its 1-0 deficit behind Chypyha’s powerful performance at No. 2 singles. Coming off a hard-fought, near-upset of No. 33 Ronit Yurovsky in the Michigan match, Chypyha made sure that there was no doubt in this matchup, blowing by Olga Chernova 6-2, 6-3 for the win.
The Spartans immediately responded, as Silesova topped Rabot at No. 6, 6-2, 6-4.
But the Badgers weren’t behind for long, as Tripolskaya turned in one of her finest performances of the year in her debut at No. 4 singles. After falling into a daunting 5-2 first set hole against Meyers, the Moscow native strung together five-straight games to earn an improbable first-set win.
The freshman rarely made an unforced error and seemingly returned everything Meyers hit at her, traits that seemed to wear on Meyers as the match went on. After the tense first set, Tripolskaya stepped up for the Badgers in a big way, downing Meyers 6-3 in the second set to get Wisconsin even at 2-2 for the match.
“(Tripolskaya) is a tough character. Whoever she plays is always in for a tough match,” Fleishman said. “I was really excited to see her come back and win the match after being down, and it says a lot about her character. She’s a fighter. I’m proud of her.”
That’s when things got interesting.
At the time that Tripolskaya’s match went final, UW led the No. 3 and 5 matches, both in the second set, and was tied in the No. 1 match, where Berner and Bohrer each had a set.
The likely outcome seemed to be that Hoch and Burich -- who both had match points -- would win their matches, leaving Berner with a pressure-free final round. But MSU rallied, forcing Burich into a third set and sending Hoch into a tiebreak.
After failing to put Herzog away earlier, Hoch nudged the Badgers ahead, 3-2, with a 6-4, 7-6(3) win at No. 5.
With a 3-2 lead, and Burich stuck in a third set, Berner’s match suddenly became crucial. The senior stepped up when her team needed her the most, turning on the gas to topple Bohrer, 7-5, 3-6 6-0, to give the match to Wisconsin, 4-2.
Burich showed some mental fortitude by bouncing back from a tough second set loss to beat Parenteau, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4.
“We’re learning from our losses and gaining more confidence from our wins,” Fleishman said. “I think we’re heading in the right direction. It won’t get any easier as we get into Big Ten season, so getting this one today was very nice.”
After showing that they can win on their home court, the Badgers look to improve on the road, as they play a pair of Easter weekend matches against Big Ten rivals. UW first takes on Illinois at 4 p.m. on Friday in Champaign, Ill., before battling Northwestern at 11 a.m. on Sunday in Chicago.
|1. Hannah Berner (WIS) def. Marina Bohrer (MSU) 7-5, 3-6, 6-0
|2. Lauren Chypyha (WIS) def. Olga Chernova (MSU) 6-2, 6-3
|3. Lauren Burich (WIS) def. Catherine Parenteau (MSU) 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4
|4. Anastasia Tripolskay (WIS) def. Emily Meyers (MSU) 7-5, 6-3
|5. Katie Hoch (WIS) def. Nicole Herzog (MSU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
|6. Michaela Silesova (MSU) def. Helen Rabot (WIS) 6-2, 6-4
|1. Hannah Berner/Lauren Chypyha (WIS) def. Marina Bohrer/Catherine Parenteau (MSU) 8-6
|2. Nicole Herzog/Michaela Silesova (MSU) def. Katie Hoch/Anastasia Tripolskay (WIS) 8-6
|3. Julianne Gruber/Emily Meyers (MSU) def. Helen Rabot/Lauren Burich (WIS) 8-6