In head coach Danny Westerman’s first year at the helm in 2015, the Badgers managed to double the previous year’s win total with 14 victories, their best season in half a decade.
A year later, Wisconsin looks poised to take the next step and make some noise in the stacked Big Ten. This Badger team is unrecognizable from those of years past with one of the best doubles lineups in the country, as well as clutch singles play that has elevated Westerman’s team to a dominant 11-2 record.
Strong play from the top doubles position is a huge reason for UW’s success. Juniors Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge have absolutely locked down the top pairing this season. After falling in two of their first three matches of the spring season, they have been on a tear. Since Feb. 16, they have won six straight matches.
Junior captain Lamar Remy and freshman Chase Colton have taken ten of their twelve matches at the No. 2 slot. Their only two losses came in back-to-back matches against Clemson and Cornell.
Sophomore Osgar O’Hoisin and senior John Zordani have been solid at third doubles. Before dropping their last two matches, the duo had lost only a single match.
Overall, the Badgers are a pristine 60-30 in doubles matches this season.
The big question mark for the rolling Wisconsin squad is if they can find consistency and depth from their singles positions.
At the first singles spot, Remy and Dodridge are a combined 7-5. This is not a promising sign as the Badgers have yet to face the class of the Big Ten, like Ohio State and Northwestern, whose top singles positions are some of the best in the nation.
From the second slot through the fourth, a joint effort from Carranza, Dodridge, Remy, O’Hoisin and Colton has produced a 26-9 record that has powered the singles rotation all season.
Less impressive is the fifth spot. Westerman has struggled to find a constant contributor as it is the only position that lies under the .500 mark (5-6) at this point.
The Badgers are riding a five-match winning streak as they enter their toughest stretch of the season. Over the next eight conference matches, they will face five ranked teams. No. 1 Ohio State looks unstoppable in the early going of conference play after taking care of both Michigan and Michigan State handily.
Coming up, the Badgers will host back-to-back matches against No. 19 Northwestern and No. 20 Illinois to defend their undefeated conference record. Northwestern has the potential to be one of the most dangerous teams in the Big Ten. Earlier this year, the Wildcats toppled No. 7 TCU in a huge upset. However, in four matches against ranked opponents since that January win, they have yet to win a match.
Northwestern’s visit Friday evening can either serve as a trademark win for an up and coming Wisconsin tennis program, or an indication of work left to be done.