The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Western Michigan Broncos, 4-3, in the Nielsen Tennis Stadium Saturday afternoon. With the help of a match-securing victory by Sebastian Vile, the Badgers improved to 6-5 on the season, while the Broncos fell to 4-6.
Saturday’s match was the first home game for the Badgers after nearly a month on the road. They were also coming off of a loss against Washington on Feb. 27. Wisconsin has only won one of their last four, but the lone win was against No. 42 ranked Oregon.
The Badgers have been on a fantastic doubles streak as of late, securing the point against their last three opponents: Penn, Oregon and Washington. Leading these victories was the dominant duo of Jared Pratt and Daniel Nuzhny (6-1, Oregon; 6-2, Penn; 6-4, Washington).
The Broncos entered this game after a win against Wichita State on Feb. 26. Altogether, they’ve split their most recent four games and stood with a losing record of 4-5. They also entered this match without a single road win this year.
The match began in a somewhat surprising fashion. Wisconsin failed to score their doubles point for the first time since Feb. 11’s Princeton match, with the only wins coming from Robin Parts and Sebastian Vile (6-2). This specific matchup was never really in doubt. However, the same cannot be said for the other two groups of Badgers.
Western Michigan’s most crucial doubles victory came from Benjamin George and Brogan Pierce, who defeated Pratt and Nuzhny, the duo that had not lost a doubles match since Feb. 6 against Drake.
As the singles portion began, the tide quickly turned in favor of the home team. Junior Gabriel Huber evened up the score following the doubles loss to secure the first singles victory of the day, a quick 6-1, 6-2 win.
Sophomore Tim Dzhurinskiy was able to earn a contentious point against the Broncos’ Jackson Boone. The match was thrilling from start to finish, as Dzhurinsky was able to fight back from an early 4-1 deficit. The first set ended 7-6, followed by a 7-3 Dzhurinsky victory in the tiebreaker, before Boone fell in the second set, 6-4.
The matchup of the day was between George and Vile, the only singles competition all day to require a third-round tiebreaker. Thus, the match ran the latest, so all eyes in Nielsen were on Vile. And the senior did not disappoint. After suffering a 6-3 loss in his first set, Vile evened up the score with a 6-3 victory of his own. With the fate of the match on the line in the third set, Vile defeated George convincingly, 6-2, to secure the Badger win at home.
Wisconsin exhibited strong resilience following their first doubles point loss in weeks by controlling the singles portion, earning a collective 4-2 record. I would expect their doubles play to bounce back in the next few matches, specifically the aforementioned team of Pratt and Nuzhny, who were on an impressive streak prior to this match.
Next for the Badgers is a trip to San Diego for some weekday matches. The first on Tuesday, May 15, against Harvard, followed by a Thursday, May 17 match vs. San Diego.
Donnie Slusher is the sports editor for the Daily Cardinal. He has written multiple breaking news stories, sports columns and an in-depth examination of race in Wisconsin football. Follow Donnie on Twitter at @DonnieSlusher_