The Wisconsin men's tennis team returns from nearly a month on the road to take on No. 70 Marquette Wednesday, looking to snap a three-match slump.
""You want to play a strong schedule, and we're doing that,"" head coach Greg Van Emburgh said about the team's recent luck on the road. ""It's a little unfortunate not to beat Notre Dame, that match might have gotten away from us a little bit. We didn't take our opportunities when they presented themselves.""
In their last two road trips, the Badgers dropped three straight matches against strong nonconference opponents, first at College Station against No. 17 Texas A&M, then to No. 18 Texas Tech and finally to No. 38 Notre Dame. Their last time out the men fell to the Irish in a drawn-out contest decided in competitive singles play, 4-3.
""We worked harder this week. Coach was not happy about [the Notre Dame loss],"" senior and co-captain Moritz Baumann said. ""We're just tired of losing, so we've got to get back on track.""
Van Emburgh said he hopes to see a new direction from the squad in light of last weekend's result.
""I hope it was an eye-opener for them, showing that we could lose to a team that quote-unquote we're supposed to beat,"" he said. ""We're vulnerable just like any team outside the top 10. It's who wants it a little bit more, who hustles a little harder, who gets those 4-3 wins.""
Turning their attention now to an in-state rival, the Badgers host a squad fresh off a two-match losing streak of its own but undoubtedly motivated by its first ever national ranking and looking to take advantage of the Badgers' slump for an upset of its own.
""Marquette is one of those gritty teams. They hustle real hard, they fight, they scream and yell, and they've got some good tennis players,"" Van Emburgh said. ""We'll be able to respond like I know we can, and we'll come out there and we'll take it to them.""
This season the Golden Eagles are 11-2, collecting their only losses on their lone road trip out west last weekend. In addition to the team's first ranking, senior No. 84 Dusan Medan recently earned his own spot, making him the highest-ranked singles player in the lineup this decade.
""The biggest thing is making sure we're ready to go and ready to match their intensity, and I think everything else will sort of take care of itself,"" assistant coach Evan Austin said. ""We haven't played in a little while, so we just want to come out and play with a lot of energy and be fired up.""
Whether Wisconsin is ready to come out of their slump or Marquette can improve on an upswing of firsts with a victory, the Badgers said they will not take anything for granted Wednesday night.
""After losing three matches in row there's no reason to be cocky,"" Baumann said. ""They're serious, and we know they're always fired up to play.""
First serve will hit Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Nielsen Tennis Stadium and the men will be back to take the court again this Sunday for a doubleheader against Western Illinois and Illinois State.