Badgers look to protect new ranking against Spartans

first_imgThe Wisconsin men’s tennis team puts its shiny new ranking on the line tonight against the No. 75 Michigan State Spartans (4-6, 0-0). This is the first time the Badgers have been ranked since April 2002.The No. 65 Badgers (4-3, 1-0) debut in the polls this week as a result of their defeat of No. 62 Northwestern last weekend. The Badgers had not defeated the Wildcats since 1991 before the 4-3 upset at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.”It was huge for us to start our conference season with a win over Northwestern, because we haven’t beaten them in a real long time,” said UW head coach Greg Van Emburgh. “It is a great way to take that momentum into the rest of the season, not only our conference matches, but our non-conference matches as well.”The Badgers were able to pull the upset with a stunning comeback by sophomore Jeremy Sonkin.”It was kind of our first signature win,” Van Emburgh said. “To go in there and walk out of there, the way it happened as well, with Sonkin being down a set and five match points down and still getting that win, just shows a lot of heart and desire.”Sonkin gets another challenge this weekend in Michigan State’s No. 77 Nick Rinks. The sophomore Rinks was part of the Spartan squad that defeated Wisconsin by a 6-1 margin last year.Because of that, Van Emburgh stressed the importance of being ready, no matter who the opponent.”We need to make sure that we are really, really ready, just as we were against Northwestern,” Van Emburgh said. “We feel like every time we step out onto the court, we have something to prove.”The Badgers will not be the only team looking to prove something, as the Spartans have dropped their last six matches coming into the Wisconsin match.”It actually works in their favor, to some degree, if they have lost a couple of close matches, played a couple of close games … for them to be even more fired up,” Van Emburgh said, “to come in here thinking, ‘Let’s be ready. Let’s get a win. We deserve a win,’ [because] we’ve been working hard also.”Van Emburgh believes his team will have a chance to be successful if they just keep on doing what they did against Northwestern. He said preparation and focus are especially important in the Badgers’ quest to be successful, and that as long as he sees maximum effort from his players, he cannot ask for anything more.”If we lose that match [against Northwestern] 4-3, we know that we did everything in our power to get that win,” he said. “That’s really important that they are doing that every time we step out on the court.”After Michigan State, the Badgers also take on the Indiana State Sycamores on Sunday afternoon. The Sycamores are led by sophomore Anton Tsymbalov, a Kazakhstan native who has won his last eight matches of the season in dual play coming into the weekend.The Badgers’ head coach looks at the Sycamores as a solid non-conference opponent that will come in and play hard on the road to try and knock off his rising UW squad.”It is a team that we definitely have to be ready for and be prepared for,” Van Emburgh said. “They have some good players on their team. They’re going to come in here, saying, ‘Hey, listen, here is a chance for us.'”Van Emburgh believes that after a win like last weekend’s win over Northwestern, and jumping up into the rankings, that Wisconsin might become more like one of the hunted instead of always being the hunter.”It kind of puts a little bit of a bull’s-eye on yourself,” Van Emburgh said of the new ranking. “You have to be ready for every match from here on out.”last_img

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