Singles play powers Wisconsin in Iowa victory

first_imgA familiar story for the Wisconsin men’s tennis team (12-11, 4-7), this season has been to dig out the all-important doubles point but fail to win enough singles matches to earn a team victory. In Friday’s contest with the Iowa Hawkeyes (1-20, 0-10), however, the Badgers were powered by junior captain Billy Bertha and sophomore Rod Carey to seize four of six singles matches to clinch a 5-2 win.After sealing the doubles point with partner sophomore Fredrik Ask, Bertha worked quickly to earn his seventh singles victory on the season, 6-1, 6-0. The captain dominated his match with a powerful first serve, dropping only a single game and finishing first.Bertha was relentless in his pursuit of a win, putting his team on top early.“The kid was missing a lot, so it was easy to get a rhythm, and once I hopped on him pretty quick, he went away,” Bertha said.Consistently playing at No. 4 and 5 throughout the season, Bertha has adopted the No. 6 position as a comfortable homebase since returning from a back injury. He has won three consecutive matches at the final singles spot.Bertha was winless in Big Ten singles play prior to the injury, but performing well lower in the lineup has helped him gain momentum in the final portion of the season.“It’s been good to get a little confidence,” Bertha said. “(I’m) playing better now, and hopefully I’ll keep improving and keep winning out the rest of the matches.”Carey has conversely been climbing higher in the singles lineup, winning 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 2 position. The Bahamas native has won his last two matches at that spot, after being catapulted up the lineup from his previous No. 5 station. Carey displayed striking mental toughness in the second set by rebounding from a difficult stretch where he surrendered four consecutive games after leading 4-1. Carey stopped the bleeding by holding his own serve and breaking his opponent’s, winning the final three games of the match.Although he demonstrated a subpar effort in his doubles loss, Carey was able to bounce back by jumping to an early lead in his singles contest.“I think I had a good start; I started off pretty confidently,” Carey said. “I think I did a good job of just getting it going early in the singles, and I think that helped a lot.”Head coach Greg Van Emburgh has been pleased with the way his lineup has evolved over the course of the season. He was forced to tinker with the lineup due to Bertha’s injury and has given other players opportunities to improve their standing in singles.One player who has taken advantage of his playing time is freshman Quinton Vega. Despite a tough three-set loss at No. 3, Vega has sustained significant improvement since making his move to the third singles spot, in which he owns an even 2-2 record. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was not able to practice or train in the fall season because of lack of certification but lately has shown his ability as an upper-echelon singles player.“Q’s done a great job,” Van Emburgh said. “He’s really starting to play great tennis, he’s really composed, he’s getting mentally tough out there and every time that he’s out there you know he’s going to fight the fight.”Although the conference season has not been as successful as they would have hoped, the Badgers are looking to pounce on any potential opponent they may face in the Big Ten tournament. The recent conference wins could help boost the team’s confidence.Van Emburgh likes the potential of the current lineup from top to bottom in the upcoming conference tournament.“I think the lower part of the lineup right now is really solid for us,” Van Emburgh said. “We’ve got some high-level potential guys up top of the lineup that really could play with the top players in the conference.”last_img read more