Wisconsin falls in singles, match with Michigan State 6-1

first_imgAs the Michigan State men’s tennis team celebrated its first Big Ten victory of the season, the Badgers dropped their second consecutive contest at the Nielsen Tennis Center in a grueling 6-1 defeat.Sunday’s match began with a promising start as Wisconsin (8-7, 0-3) earned the doubles point against Michigan State (11-8, 1-3) for the 12th time in 15 matches this season but couldn’t earn another mark on the scoreboard.At the No. 3 position, sophomore tandem Rod Carey and Alex Robles finished first en route to an 8-6 win to give Wisconsin an early lead in doubles play.Coming off a win over the No. 15 doubles duo in the land, the top Badger team of junior captain Billy Bertha and sophomore Fredrik Ask lost just their fourth decision of the year as they fell to Drew Lied and Aaron Pfister of Michigan State 8-6. Junior Alexander Kostanov and sophomore Petr Satral clinched the first point of the match in their 8-6 win.The stunning failure of Wisconsin’s singles matches was the story of the match. Six efforts resulted in six losses, despite four Badgers taking their opponents to third sets. Two of Wisconsin’s losses on Sunday ended in a third set tiebreak losses by Ask and Satral.Assistant coach Joe Bates said the struggles in singles cannot be answered with a single reason.“I think it’s just about confidence,” Bates said. “Just moving forward I don’t think there’s a magic answer to gaining confidence or gaining match experience, but I think even these close losses help.”Carey’s performance looked promising as he found himself up a break early in his first set in the No. 2 position, but he seemed to lose his poise as he was crushed in his second set without winning a single game.Freshman Andy Quirk also dropped his match in straight sets but displayed impressive competitiveness on the brink of defeat, as he won three straight games to tie the second set at five before losing his first match of the season. The freshman was also the only player to win a singles match on Friday against the No. 25 Michigan Wolverines.The freshman explained the team has attempted to gain confidence by becoming more encouraging during matches.“I think we’ve just got to go out there and just play with a lot of energy, try and get ahead early,” Quirk said. “I think sometimes we get up and then we lose focus. I think we’ve just got to keep focusing and just play with a lot of confidence and belief.”The last four matches were decided by third sets, including the two tiebreak defeats of Ask and Satral. Three of the four Badgers were able to fight back into their respective matches after severely losing their first sets. Satral explained that one singles victory will allow him to regain his confidence after Sunday’s defeat.“I just need to win one good match in [a] tiebreak, and I think I will win [the] next one and next one,” Satral said. “So I just need to get [one] good match, then I will be back.”A strategic move by the coaching staff was to relieve Kostanov of his singles duties on Sunday, believing that his absence would create more favorable matchups for the players moving up in the lineup. Kostanov hadn’t sat out of the singles lineup since Jan. 28 in a home win against Western Illinois.The junior’s vacancy effectively forced the rest of the singles players to participate in more difficult matches. Bates knew the decision was a risk.“It was kind of a gamble, and I suppose it didn’t pay off,” Bates said. “We got the right matchups, we thought.”After the winless weekend, Wisconsin’s relentless schedule does not ease up. The Badgers’ next slate of matches includes road tests at No. 15 Illinois and No. 53 Northwestern. Wisconsin has yet to earn their first victory against a ranked opponent and six of the last eight squads Wisconsin will challenge are nationally positioned in the top 75.Bates stressed that the team needs to be prepared to win points in tight situations.“They won the big points,” Bates said. “That’s how it goes, one or two points decides the match … they closed the matches out.”last_img

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