Wisconsin opens season at Western Racquet Club

first_imgWith six of nine players returning from the 2008-09 season, the UW men’s tennis team will open up its new campaign at the Western Racquet Club in Elm Grove, Wis. this weekend.The WRC’s Milwaukee Tennis Classic, like most fall tournaments, is an individual tournament as opposed to a team competition. The team will face Marquette, Ball State and Northwestern.The first singles match takes place Friday when the Badgers face Northwestern, which captured both the singles and doubles championships last year.The Badgers are trying to improve on a season where they ended tied for seventh in the Big Ten and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This was the first time since Greg Van Emburgh started coaching at UW the Badgers didn’t make it to the second round.The team is led by three team captains: seniors Moritz Baumann, Michael Dierberger and junior Marek Michalicka. Baumann is going into the season ranked 19th in the nation — his highest ranking to date — and Michalicka is ranked 34th in the nation. They also participate in doubles together, where they are ranked sixth.“I think it could be one of our strongest classes that we’ve had; we’re led by three seniors,” Van Emburgh said. “They’re going to be an integral part of the team. It’s a key factor in success of the team to have players that can play nationally with any of the top teams in the country.”“I feel we have that in our whole lineup, not just the top of the lineup. The bottom of the lineup is just as important as the top, whether it’s singles or doubles. If you’re on the court and on the team, you’re a big part of the success.”“I think we’ll have a really strong team this year,” Baumann added. “I think we’ll do really well. Our first goal is to make the NCAA Tournament and ultimately make the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.”Incoming five-star rated freshmen Chris Freeman and Billy Bertha are looking to be key members of the team this year.Bertha played his high school tennis in Wisconsin at Marquette University High School, where he made the finals of the WIAA State Tennis Championships three times, winning the tournament his last two trips. He also enjoyed success on a national level, where he was ranked 29th.Freeman won the St. Louis National Clay Championships in 2008 and was ranked 56th in the nation as a junior.“I think they’re both great guys. They’re top prospects nationally. I think they’re going to have an immediate impact in our lineup, singles and doubles,” Van Emburgh said of his incoming freshmen. “I’m not suspecting any problems with them transitioning from juniors to college tennis. They both work really hard; it’s important for them to get a lot of college experience in the fall.”“I’m most excited to be practicing with a lot of good guys every day and all the competition of the Big Ten,” Bertha added. “We have a good schedule with a lot of good teams to face, but hopefully we can bring home a Big Ten Championship.”Although the lineup for the tournament this weekend is not set yet, it is known that Michalicka, Baumann and sophomore Patrick Pohlmann will be given rest and are not in the lineup. I think this tournament gives us a good opportunity to play a lot of matches,” Van Emburgh said. “It gives us a chance to watch the guys, work with them on the court and coach them. We also get to see if there is anything for the guys to work on so they can improve going into the spring.”last_img

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