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Badgers climb over .500 mark with home victory

first_imgThe Wisconsin men’s tennis team finished off a flawless weekend at home by defeating the Northern Illinois Huskies 6-1, giving the Badgers, who now sit at 5-4, their first winning record since starting their season 2-0.After dropping its first conference match of the season to Minnesota last weekend, Wisconsin seems to have found its stride, surrendering only one point in its last two matches. The Badgers stole all three doubles matches to secure an early lead. Junior captain Billy Bertha and sophomore Fredrik Ask bounced back in their match after being broken early in their set, and after tying it up 6-6, the team dominated the tiebreaker with a few key volley winners, winning the match 9-8 (7-1).The victory ended the duo’s two-match losing streak, including an unexpected loss to an unranked UW-Green Bay team Saturday.“We were able to bounce back at one doubles,” head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. “Whenever you’re a ranked team, everybody’s looking to take shots at you … guys are coming after you hard.”Wisconsin continued its success in singles play with sophomore Rod Carey finishing first by soundly beating Roman Turtygin at the No. 3 position (6-3, 6-3) giving him an even 4-4 singles record on the year.A pleasant surprise for Wisconsin was the play of freshman Andy Quirk over the weekend. A strong performance by the Scotsman put the Huskies in a difficult 0-3 hole, forcing them to win the remaining four singles matches to pull off the victory.Quirk also stepped in for sophomore Petr Satral after he was beleaguered by an ankle injury against UW-Green Bay, and the freshman was ecstatic to be given the chance to sneak into the gameday lineup.“I was a little nervous, but I really wanted to prove myself to the team, and I think I did that,” Quirk said. “Hopefully I get another chance to play.”His 6-2, 6-1 victory against UW-GB marks Quirk’s first win since January. In his two matches this season, he has lost a total of three games.Van Emburgh matched Quirk’s excitement with the prospect of a young player providing depth to the team.“I thought he did a great job today,” Van Emburgh said. “He’s the type of player where it’s going to be a nightmare for guys if he’s down low at the five or six position. He grinds guys down. He’s really tough, he’s really competitive … he’s confident he can beat anybody.”Bertha clinched the victory for the Badgers with a 6-4, 6-3 victory with the help of strong serving. Junior transfer Alexander Kostanov – who, after losing his first five singles efforts, has now won two consecutive matches – also won in straight sets with a 6-3, 6-4 finish in the No. 2 singles spot.Solid singles play continued with a three-set effort from Ask. Inconsistent groundstrokes plagued the Oslo, Norway, native in the first set, but he was able to trigger a comeback, winning the next two sets by identical scores of 6-1, 6-1.Ask earned the only Badger win against the Gophers last weekend on the road, and was able to use his opponent’s frustration to his advantage as the match progressed.“I wasn’t feeling too great, but then I started feeling the ball a little better, and I also saw that he was getting tired because the rallies were quite long,” Ask said.He also made a key observation about the strength of his opponent that enabled him to reconsider his game plan.“I started to hit my backhand a little bit more crosscourt down to his one-hander,” Ask said. “And then I had some more openings with my forehand after, because I was playing too much down the line with my backhand to his forehand, because his forehand was quite good.”The weekend wins have put Wisconsin in a solid position heading into the final portion of the non-conference schedule. The Badgers travel to California March 10 to contend with the No. 16 Fresno State Bulldogs, where Wisconsin looks to pick up its first road win of the season.Van Emburgh thinks his team has a decent shot at earning its first road victory, despite the sizable challenge of taking down a top-25 squad on the road. “I think the guys have gained a lot of momentum, and should feel really confident on where we are right now in our season,” Van Embugh said. “I think we’re starting to peak at the right time.”last_img read more