The Wisconsin womens tennis team opened up Big Ten Conference play Saturday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium against No. 6 Northwestern. The Badgers came up short, 7-0 in their first conference test.
With injuries still plaguing the team, Wisconsin played its third-straight match with a modified lineup. Todays match also marked the fourth consecutive Badger opponent ranked within the top 20.
As I said to our team, I think Northwestern might have done the best job of the three teams weve played thus far knowing our situation, Wisconsin head coach Patti Henderson said. And they did a very good job of not giving an inch and just staying on top of things and not having a let down from their end, which I think is somewhat reflected in some of these scores.
Northwestern got out to a quick 1-0 start by sweeping all three doubles matches. At No. 1 doubles, Badger senior Kaylan Caiati (Greendale, Wis.) and sophomore Liz Carpenter (Sierra Madre, Calif.) faced the Wildcats No. 30 duo of Alexis Prousis and Georgia Rose. The score was knotted at one game a piece but Northwestern went on to score the next five points and would win the match, 8-2. At the No. 2 spot, junior Morgan Tuttle (Winnetka, Ill.) and Chelsea Nusslock (Lake Forest, Ill.) fell in an 8-3 decision to Samantha Murray and Lauren Lui while junior Nicole Beck (Lawrenceville, Va.) and freshman Kim Roberts (Wrexham, Wales) lost an 8-2 contest to Nazlie Ghazal and Keri Robison at the No. 3 position.
With their top two singles players out of the line-up again, Carpenter moved up to the No. 1 spot for the Badgers. She faced Northwesterns Samantha Murray who took a 6-2 tally in the first set. In the second set, Northwestern broke a 1-1 tie by rattling off three straight points. Carpenter halted the rally and put the score at 4-2 but Murray would score the next two points to win the second set, 6-2.
Liz is a great competitor and having to step in and play No. 1 now for three matches in a row, thats not where shes used to being, Henderson said. But shes going to compete and shes going to be better for it.
Nusslock moved into the No. 2 spot and dropped a 6-0, 6-0 decision to Northwesterns No. 66 Lauren Lui. At No. 3, sophomore Erin Jobe (Corydon, Ky.) also stopped a three point rally by the Wildcats Nazlie Ghazal in the second set but couldnt hold on in the 6-0, 6-2 loss.
Erin Jobe played a dismal first set but re-grouped and figured out how to get herself back into the match, Henderson said.
Tuttle played the closest match of the day and trailed Suzie Matzenauer by just one point at the 4-3 tally in the first set of the No. 4 position. Tuttle would score one more point in the set before the Wildcats captured the first, 6-4. In the second, Tuttle dropped a 6-1 decision.
Finally, at the No. 5 position, Roberts hung on in the second set and pulled within two points at the 5-3 mark. Northwesterns Keri Robison tallied the final point of the second set to take the match 6-0, 6-3. The Wildcats won the point at the No. 6 spot by default.
Kim Roberts played a very good second set for us and things are finally starting to click and things are starting to happen for her, Henderson said.
With this tough stretch behind them, the Badgers now focus their attention on the remaining non-conference season before the thick of the Big Ten season kicks in. Wisconsin returns to action tomorrow at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium for a noon match-up against DePaul.
Weve just finished four matches against some top teams and we have nothing to lose and plus weve been depleted, Henderson said. Now, I dont care how many people we put on the court, if weve got four, five or six, we have to go out there and believe that were going to be able to beat DePaul, Marquette and Princeton which are the next matches for us. Hopefully thats what were going to see tomorrow.