first_imgAfter snapping a five-match losing skid, the Wisconsin men’s tennis team (9-10, 1-6 Big Ten) will look to put a conference winning streak together as it travels to the state of Indiana this weekend to face the Purdue Boilermakers and the Indiana Hoosiers.The Badgers were finally able to break through with their first Big Ten victory April 8 against a struggling Penn State team, which possesses an identical conference record to Wisconsin’s.As the Badgers fight to climb out of the dungeon of the Big Ten standings, head coach Greg Van Emburgh is relieved to have notched the first win of the conference season.“It was just huge, as far being able to turn the season around, that was a huge win for us,” Van Emburgh said. “It was a great confidence booster for the guys, the morale after the match was so much better.”The confidence of the team will prove to be an important factor this Saturday against the Boilermakers, as they lead the Badgers by just a single game in the Big Ten standings. Wisconsin has owned Purdue as of late, winning the last eight matches.The Boilermakers are in a comparable spot to the Badgers at this point in the season – Purdue was similarly stunted by a Big Ten losing streak before defeating a weaker conference opponent.Sophomore Rod Carey understands that attacking two conference opponents this weekend is crucial to salvaging the regular season.“They’re really important to the team because it’s a way for us to get some momentum,” Carey said. “If we could get two wins there that would be good for the team.”Carey was able to individually bounce back from a five-match losing streak with a three-set victory against Penn State’s Russell Bader in the No. 2 position, a spot he has played in the past five matches. The Bahamas native was originally starting at the No. 5 slot, but his consistent effort has improved his rank in the lineup.An additional alteration to Wisconsin’s lineup has been an involuntary one due to the injury suffered by junior Billy Bertha. The captain hasn’t seen action since April 1 in a loss at Northwestern, in which he partnered up with sophomore Alex Robles in their second consecutive match as a pair.Van Emburgh is looking forward to seeing his captain back on the court.“We’re hopefully going to get Billy back in there … at least in the doubles, if not the singles as well,” Van Emburgh said.As the Badgers hit the road this weekend, they will be mindful that they have only earned one victory away from the Nielsen Tennis Center. That win came against an Idaho squad that held an 8-6 record at the time of the match.Solving the equation for road success will be pivotal for the Badgers, as three of their last four opponents will be played on the road before they participate in the Big Ten tournament.The team is confident about its opportunity to win away matches down the final stretch of the regular season.“They should take a lot of confidence into the remainder of the season,” Van Emburgh said. “I think from here on out, the matches that we’re playing are really going to be winnable matches and tennis is really a mental sport.”After its contest with Purdue, Wisconsin matches up with a more dangerous Indiana club that defeated Notre Dame, a top-40 team that Wisconsin fell to early in the non-conference season.Despite a steep hill to hike, the Badgers know they have much room for improvement. A slate of underclassmen has yet to hit its full potential and none of the Badgers are scheduled to graduate before the 2012-2013 campaign.“We shouldn’t give up; we should work hard, keep doing the right things on and off the court,” junior Alexander Kostanov said. “Even if we wouldn’t succeed in this season, it is going to pay off during next season.”last_img

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