Nittany Lion Tennis Clipped By Wisconsin, 4-3
March 23, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 36th-ranked Penn State men's tennis team (6-7, 1-1) clawed its way to a hard-fought doubles point, but No. 48 Wisconsin (10-6, 2-0) tallied four singles victories to edge the Nittany Lions by a score of 4-3 at the Penn State Indoor Tennis Center on Sunday.
Following the doubles victory, Penn State built a one-set lead in three of the first four singles matches on court, but were only able to chalk up only one victory. The Badgers took advantage of key opportunities and clawed to a trio of three-set victories to clinch the win. The 4 hour and 45 minute match featured four three-set singles bouts.
"It was a tough loss to a good Wisconsin team," said head coach Todd Doebler. "After winning the doubles point and getting up in three of the first four singles matches, we had plenty of chances. We are going to need to come up with the same effort against Michigan."
Senior Michael James (Clifton, Va.) and junior Brendan Lynch (North Potomac, Md.), who are ranked 34th in the ITA doubles rankings, gave the Nittany Lions a quick edge in doubles action with an 8-5 triumph over Moritz Baumann and Nolan Polley at the No. 1 slot. James and Lynch served to a 4-1 lead after scoring a break in the fourth game. The Wisconsin team looked set to get back into the match with the score reading 5-3, but James served out of a 15-40 hole to secure the critical service hold. From there, the Lion duo served to the 8-4 victory to remain perfect on the year in dual matches. Lynch and James are 9-0 this spring.
At No. 2, junior Adam Slagter (Austin, Texas) sophomore Ryan Gormley (Las Vegas, Nev.) clinched the doubles point for the Nittany Lions with an 8-5 victory over Wisconsin's Marek Michalicka and Jeremy Sonkin. Slagter and Gormley secured a service break in the 12th game of the pro-set to take a 7-5 lead on their way to the 8-5 triumph.
With Penn State up 1-0, the match moved to singles play. Slagter gave the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead in the match with a straight-sets victory over Michalicka at No. 2 (6-3, 6-3). The Lion junior served to a 4-2 lead in the first and never looked back. Slagter used a strong return game to hand Michalicka his first dual-match loss of the season. He came into the bout 13-0 on the year. Slagter improves to 4-4 this spring in dual action.
Following Slagter's convincing victory, the momentum shifted in favor of the Badgers. In the No. 1 match, 44th-ranked Baumann shaved the Penn State lead to 2-1 by ousting James in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6 (3). Despite being down a set and a break in the second, the Nittany Lion senior rallied to send the set into a tiebreaker. Nonetheless, Baumann's strong ground game clinched the No. 1 point for Wisconsin with a 7-3 breaker victory. James, who is ranked 52nd in the ITA singles rankings, falls to 22-9 on the season.
In the No. 3 match, Lynch built a one-set lead (6-3) over Polley, who is ranked 99th in the nation. The Lion southpaw carried that momentum into the second, as he managed a break in the eighth game of the set, which gave him a 5-3 advantage. Nevertheless, Polley remained poised despite Lynch serving for the match. Polley went on to break service and send the set into a breaker. After claiming the tiebreaker in the second (7-6 (3)), Polley cruised to the victory with a 6-1 triumph in the third. Polley's victory knotted the match at 2-2.
Bourchier also held a one-set lead in his singles battle against Sonkin at No. 4 in the lineup. The Nittany Lion rookie jetted out to a one-set edge with a dominating 6-1 victory in the first. He then took a 4-3 lead in the second with a service break, but Sonkin rallied with a break in the next game. The set headed into a tiebreaker after both players held serve. Sonkin scored the breaker victory (7-6 (2)) to square the match at one set apiece. The two players battled their way to another tiebreaker in the decisive third set. Just as was the case in the second set, Sonkin came out on top with a 7-1 victory, which handed Wisconsin a 3-2 lead in the overall match.
The Badgers clinched the Big Ten victory with a three-set triumph at No. 5. Dierberger notched a one-set lead over Gormley (6-4). Nonetheless, the Lion sophomore roared back in the second to square the match with a 6-3 victory. In the third set, Dierberger secured a break in the sixth game of the set to take a 4-2 lead on his way to a 6-3 victory, which clinched the Badgers' fourth point of the afternoon.
With the overall match decided, Dwyer recorded his fifth-straight singles triumph at No. 6 to give Penn State its third point in the overall match. Dwyer secured a one-set lead over Muskievicz (6-3), but dropped the second (6-3). The Nittany Lion senior claimed the point by ousting Muskievicz by a score of 6-4 in the third. Dwyer is now 11-6 on the year, including a 5-1 mark in duals.
Penn State will have a quick turnaround as they host No. 14 Michigan on Monday at 1 p.m. at the Penn State Indoor Tennis Center. The 14th-ranked Wolverines edged Wisconsin on Friday in their last outing. The Lions will host four matches next weekend, including a pair of Big Ten battles against Minnesota and Iowa.
Final Score: #48 Wisconsin 4, #36 Penn State 3