Wisconsin struggles on West Coast swing

The Wisconsin men’s tennis team (4-4) trekked out west this weekend for a pair of matches against formidable Pac-12 foes Oregon and Washington. However, the Badgers came away empty-handed, losing both matches 5-2 in tough fashion. The squad started out the road trip by taking on an Oregon team that head coach Danny Westerman called a “very good team” that also features both a top-20 singles player, Thomas Laurent, and doubles pair, Laurent and Cormac Clissold. Oregon brought a 4-2 record into the match, with their only two losses coming against No. 5 powerhouse Stanford and No. 23 Cal.

The Badgers faced a tough setup on the doubles side to start, as they had to face two ranked teams at the two and three seed spots. Westerman decided to go with new-look doubles pairs, but they had their work cut out for them against Oregon’s high-powered duos. Josef Dodridge and Osgar O’Hoisin managed to eke out a 7-6 (7) tiebreaker win over the Ducks’ unranked pair, Armando Soemarno and Charles Roberts, but the other two matches didn’t go quite as smoothly. Chema Carranza and Chase Colton suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 (6) loss to No. 17 Clissold and Laurent, nearly knocking off the ranked duo in a match that was tight throughout. Meanwhile, Daniel Soyfer and Jesper Freimuth were unable to put up much resistance against No. 37 Simon Stevens and Ty Gentry, getting shut out 6-0. This marked the first time the Badgers lost a doubles point so far this season.

After dropping the doubles point, Wisconsin faced another competitive slate of matches on the singles side, needing four wins now to be able to clinch the match. O’Hoisin got the Badgers off to a good start, winning his match with ease over Riki Oshima, 6-1 6-3. But just as in the doubles half, Oregon spoiled the Badgers’ promising start. Ty Gentry made quick work of Freimuth, 6-2 6-4, and Chema Carranza nearly upset No. 12 Laurent in straight sets but dropped the second set in nail-biting 7-6 fashion before running out of steam and losing the final set 6-3. Colton dropped his match in straight sets to Clissold 6-3 7-5, and Stevens struck the fatal blow with a 7-6 6-4 victory over Dodridge to give the Ducks the victory. Soyfer also beat Akihiro Tanaka 7-5 4-6 6-0 to give the Badgers their second point. With the loss, Wisconsin fell to 4-3 as they headed into their second match of the weekend in Seattle against Washington.

Despite the loss, Coach Westerman seemed encouraged about the future of the team.

“These are great early-season matches that will test us and get us better. No better teaching tool than being in very close matches," he told UWBadgers.com.

The second leg of their road trip came against another worthy opponent in the Washington Huskies, who have lost just one match all year so far against No. 13 Michigan and had won three in a row coming into their battle with the Badgers. Carranza and Colton got Wisconsin off to a hot start in the doubles frame, bowling over Jake Douglas and Jack Davis 6-0, and Soyfer and Freimuth grinded out a 7-6 (5) tiebreak win to clinch the doubles point for the Badgers.

Similarly to Friday, though, they faltered when it came to the singles matches. After an encouraging doubles victory, the Badgers lost all but one of their singles duels and wound up losing the match 5-2. Soyfer served as the lone bright spot, winning his match 6-1 6-4 over Amit Batta to cap off an undefeated weekend. While the team showed flashes of potential throughout the weekend, their overall struggles in singles hindered them from truly having a chance to beat either of the two quality opponents on their road trip.

The Badgers return to Nielsen Stadium this Thursday to take on in-state rival Marquette at 6 p.m.

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