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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Wisconsin dispatches Illinois State, Western Illinois

Marek: Junior Marek Michalicka (above) and senior Luke Rassow-Kantor?s 8-1 doubles victory helped UW down Illinois State.

Wisconsin dispatches Illinois State, Western Illinois

The Wisconsin men's tennis team tallied two more wins this Sunday in their last pre-conference tune-ups against No. 70 Illinois State and Western Illinois, 6-1 and 6-0.

""Overall we got what we needed to get out of it,"" head coach Greg Van Emburgh said. ""I was hoping that the guys in the second match would have been pushed a little harder, but you don't know until you go out there and they must have just gone out there played really well and took care of business quickly.""

Although Illinois State (7-5) furnished a solid lineup, the No. 38 Badgers (10-4) dismissed them almost empty-handed, allowing only one point with a singles victory at No. 4.

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In doubles, the two teams split results at positions No. 2 and No. 3 where junior Marek Michalicka and senior Luke Rassow-Kantor skated to an 8-1 victory, but freshman Ricardo Martin and senior Michael Dierberger dropped their own pro set 5-8. Senior Moritz Baumann and sophomore Patrick Pohlmann finally earned the first Badger point, 8-5.

Apart from the battle at No. 4, the Redbirds saw their best chance to collect and slip away at No. 1 where No. 21 Michalicka struggled to put down Alexander Pelaez in a first-set tiebreak. He finished the second more comfortably, 6-3, but Van Emburgh said that's the kind of tenacity he expects from a player like Michalicka, who is ""every coach's dream.""

""He shows up everyday, and he's ready to work hard,"" Van Emburgh said. ""I'm not surprised at all that he's 10-0. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't lose a match all year.""

Against Western Illinois in the second match of the day, the Badgers sharpened their efficient play and cleaned up the singles points 6-0, in a match contested without a doubles competition.

This time the Leathernecks (2-8) were unable to earn more than two service games in any given match except that between No. 13 senior Moritz Baumann and junior Jeff Cole at the No. 1 spot. While Baumann's 6-4, 6-1 victory hardly seems like a dangerous match-up, he wasn't happy with the shots he let pass by. 

""I lost a couple of matches over the last couple of weeks, so I'm trying to get my confidence back and those were good opportunities,"" Baumann said, also admitting it was tough to refocus for round two.

The Badger captain who led his team undefeated much of last season missed a few matches this season with shoulder problems but promises he is pain-free and back on to defend his rank for the conference season.

 ""He didn't practice, didn't train, didn't play as much tennis as he did last year,"" Van Emburgh said. ""I think he's right back on track right where he is. I feel good about where his game is ... and I know he's going to be busting it everyday in practice this week.""

But victory celebrations will be short for the Badgers this week with the conference season right around the corner, and one of their toughest opponents is up first in No. 15 Illinois.

""It's going to be a battle out there. They're going to come and they're going to fight really hard,"" Rassow-Kantor said. ""They're really talented ... It's going to be a really tough match.""

According to Van Emburgh, it's a challenge that the Badgers are ready for.

""We needed to play a lot of tennis to make sure. Illinois is going to be a good team, and we're right there with them ... That's a match were really looking forward to.""

The Badgers will take on the Illini next Sunday at 12 p.m., trying to maintain their perfect season at home.


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