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Wisconsin looks to build on successes from year ago

first_imgAfter sweeping Marquette in a home match last spring, Wisconsin women’s tennis head coach Patti Henderson attributed part of the team’s success to a grueling duel against the Wildcats just days before.”I was pleased with it,” Henderson said. “One of the things we had looked for was trying to carry the level of play from Northwestern into today’s match.”This year, things will be different.The No. 50 Badgers meet Marquette in Milwaukee Friday before traveling to Evanston Saturday to take on No. 8 Northwestern, meaning both matches will be played on the road in ascending order of difficulty. Wisconsin’s lineup also looks radically different, with all six positions having been re-assigned since the end of last season and only four veterans slated to play, two of them sophomores.Should the Badgers’ doubles lineup go untweaked following last weekend, though, UW’s top duo will be the same pairing of Caitlin Burke and Nicole Beck that enjoyed a momentous start against the Wildcats last February, going up 2-0 in the second-flight, eight-game pro set before dropping a tie-break match 8-7(5).Beck and teammate Chelsea Nusslock (also then a freshman) stole the day’s only two points against the Wildcats last spring, with the former player’s victory having come via a third-set match-breaker.”It was a good match for all of us because we all did better than what we did last time against them. And Chelsea pulled out with a match. … I pulled out with another match,” Beck said a year ago. “We’re just going to build from this.”Still, what a difference a year can make. Beck is no longer holding down fort on the fifth flight, having graduated all the way up to the team’s penultimate spot. And Nusslock has bumped up from the sixth spot to the fourth, also facing a clearly heightened level of competition.Anchoring the squad at the top spot this year is No. 32 Burke, who pulled off a quick victory against her Iowa State opponent last weekend following a fiercely contested trifecta of losses against top-ranked opponents at the USTA/ITA Indoor Championships the previous week.”It felt good to win after losing three matches in a row last weekend,” Burke commented following the team’s defeat of Iowa State.On the heels of that 6-1 victory over the Cyclones, the Badgers have moved up a spot in the rankings this week, improving from a No. 51 position. The team still has some territory to cover, however, if it is to revisit its preseason mark of No. 34, and a win over the Wildcats on Saturday would greatly aid them in that endeavor.last_img read more