April 5, 2013
MADISON, Wis. - All season long, the Wisconsin women's tennis team has made slow but steady progress. But with a 5-2 upset over No. 52 Ohio State Friday afternoon at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium, the Badgers (4-13, 2-4 B1G) took a giant leap.
Wisconsin has shown flashes of its potential all season long, from Hannah Berner's victories over ranked opponents, to Anastasia Tripolskaya's five-match singles winning-streak, to Lauren Chypyha's near-upset of No. 33 Ronit Yurovsky against Michigan. But for the first time this season, these stellar performances all came in the same match, earning the Badgers their most impressive victory of the season, over a team they have not beaten in six years.
"Today's the closest we've come to playing our perfect match," said head coach Brian Fleishman. "We just did all the right things at all the right times against a really quality opponent in Ohio State. The girls have learned and grown from the losses we've had, and that growth was really evident today."
UW jumped out to a 1-0 lead against the Buckeyes (9-9, 2-4 B1G) by taking two of the three doubles matches. Berner and Chypyha set the tone, grabbing a 5-0 lead against Kara Cecil and Noelle Malley in the No. 1 match before winning 8-4.
After Lauren Burich and Helen Rabot dropped the No. 3 match to Kelsey Dieters and Grainne O'Neill, 8-1, Tripolskaya and Katie Hoch gave Wisconsin the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova. Hoch and Tripolskaya were in control the whole match, with Hoch's powerful baseline stroke complementing Tripolskaya's phenomenal performance at the net to give the Badgers the win.
Today's performance in doubles was an especially stark example of the progress UW has made this season. After starting the season with six-straight doubles point losses, the Badgers dominated a ranked team en route to earning the point.
Chypyha doubled the Wisconsin lead by breezing to a 6-4, 6-3 win over Cecil in the No. 2 match, but the Buckeyes responded to cut the UW lead to 2-1 with Steele's 6-4, 6-0 defeat of Hoch at No. 5. Hoch had clawed back from a 5-2, first set deficit to get within 5-4, but Steele would go on to win the next seven games to take the match.
Berner got the Badgers back on the right track with a scrappy two-set win in the No. 1 match, upsetting No. 54 Dieters, 6-2, 7-6(6). The Wisconsin senior was at her best, scrambling to extend points and wearing down the higher-ranked Dieters as the match went on.
"I always tell the girls that in college tennis, nothing's free," Fleishman said. "You have to go out there and take the match yourself--nobody is just going to give it to you. Today I think we really went out there and took it."
Already holding a commanding 3-1 overall lead, it was Burich who clinched the match for UW. The freshman dropped O'Neill in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to cement the upset for Wisconsin. After letting a second-set lead slip away, Burich showed poise by bouncing back to take the third set.
Though the overall outcome of the match wasn't in question, the Badgers got a phenomenal performance from Rabot in the No. 6 match to grab a 5-1 advantage. The England native fell into a 4-2 first-set hole against Flower, before stringing together six-straight games to take control of the match, 6-4, 2-0. After pushing her lead to 6-4, 5-1, she struggled to put away Flower, who battled back to knot the second set up at 5-5. But Rabot would not be denied, winning the next two games and taking the match, 6-4, 7-5.
The match concluded with Tripolskaya falling in the No. 3 match to Manashirova, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. It was a match of runs, as Tripolskaya dominated the first set and Manashirova dominated the second. Manishirova jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set before Tripolskaya won four of the next five games to tie the match up. Though Manishirova ultimately won, Tripolskaya went down fighting, turning away multiple match points and turning every point into a long rally.
The win was due in no small part to the total effort that the Badgers expounded, from Berner's long second set, to Rabot's comeback, to Tripolskaya's dogged effort. It's a characteristic that Fleishman strives to cultivate in his team, and he was pleased to see it on display today.
"How hard you're going to fight, your scrappiness and your grittiness is something that you can control," Fleishman said. "(Assistant coach) Mira (Radu) and I have been preaching all season that a lot of times a scrappier player will beat the more talented one, and I thought we were the grittier team today. It's good to win here in Madison, and we're excited for another test against Penn State."
Wisconsin looks to take down its second-straight ranked opponent when squares off against No. 33 Penn State at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
|1. Hannah Berner (WIS) def. Kelsey Dieters (OSU) 6-2, 7-6 (8-6)
|2. Lauren Chypyha (WIS) def. Kara Cecil (OSU) 6-4, 6-3
|3. Fidan Manashirova (OSU) def. Anastasia Tripolskay (WIS) 1-6, 6-1, 7-5
|4. Gabby Steele (OSU) def. Katie Hoch (WIS) 6-4, 6-0
|5. Lauren Burich (WIS) def. Grainne O'Neill (OSU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
|6. Helen Rabot (WIS) def. Nicole Flower (OSU) 6-4, 7-5
|1. Hannah Berner/Lauren Chypyha (WIS) def. Kara Cecil/Noelle Malley (OSU) 8-4
|2. Katie Hoch/Anastasia Tripolskay (WIS) def. Kelsey Dieters/Grainne O'Neill (OSU) 8-2
|3. Fidan Manashirova/Gabby Steele (OSU) def. Lauren Burich/Helen Rabot (WIS) 8-1
|Ohio State (9-9, 2-4 B1G); National ranking #52
|Wisconsin (4-13, 2-4 B1G)
|Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (2,4,1,5,6,3)