Tennis set for Big Ten Singles

first_imgResting its three best players, the already strong University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team looks to strengthen its depth at the Big Ten Singles Tournament at Michigan State this weekend.The Big Ten Singles Tournament is the last competition for most of the Badgers before a long break until the spring season, and with the top three singles spots all but secured by senior Moritz Baumann, Marek Michalicka and Patrick Pohlmann, the coaches are looking to see how the rest of the team will fall into place.“Playing confident and playing aggressive is really what we’re looking for,” UW assistant coach Evan Austin said. “I think all the guys we’re taking could do a lot of damage in this tournament, so it’s definitely going to help a guy’s cause to play in the lineup if he has a great run here and beats a bunch of guys who are playing high up in lineups on other teams in the Big Ten.”Two Badgers who have stood out so far are senior Luke Rassow-Kantor and freshman Chris Freeman. In the two tournaments they’ve played, Rassow-Kantor has gone 4-2 in singles and 4-1 in doubles, while the young Freeman has impressed, going 5-2 in singles and 5-0 in doubles play.Even though it’s called the “Singles Tournament,” the Big Ten added a doubles portion to the event, and the Badgers are excited to work on this part of their game as well. The team to watch will be Rassow-Kantor and Freeman, who the coaches are hoping will turn into a formidable duo.“Luke has got really good doubles skills, and his game matches well with anyone,” Austin said. “Chris hits the ball hard and has a lot of weapons, so I think, with Luke’s experience in doubles and Chris’s weapons, they’re going to be a good team.”Rassow-Kantor and Freeman have gone 3-0 when playing together this year and are confident they can continue their great form.“[Luke] has really good hands at the net, and we both have big serves, so that’s kind of a good combination for doubles,” Freeman said. “If we’re playing solid, we have a good chance of doing well.”The tournament not only will solidify the depth of the Badgers’ team but it will also showcase that depth to the rest of the Big Ten. UW is very confident in this year’s team, and the Badgers want the rest of the Big Ten to take notice.“This year, we’re going to be strong,” Freeman said. “We have about five or six guys competing for the five and six spot on the team this year, so it’s really adding competitiveness to our team, making us stronger. We want to prove something to the other teams there and instill a lot of fear in their minds.”While all the players fight for their respective spots in the lineup, they also know they need to find their place on the team, play their role and find their confidence.“I’m really just trying to play more solid tennis more consistently,” Rassow-Kantor said. “In the past, I’ve kind of been up and down, but I’m just trying to get good results and go into the spring feeling well and playing strong.”Freeman felt the same way.“I know I’m capable of playing with top players and all that, but a win would be helpful, [and] I want to play my part on the team,” he said. “It’s really the team building.”The coaches are just looking to give the players more reps and create a solid, deep team.Wisconsin will also be sending senior Michael Dierberger, sophomore Varun Chari and freshman Billy Bertha. The tournament takes place at the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility and the MAC through Saturday in East Lansing and will be the last competition for the Badgers until spring season starts.“We’ve played a good amount of matches this fall, guys are fit, guys are working hard, so it’s really just about getting more matches then after this. It’s basically two months of slowing down before their main season picks up,” Austin said. “We would love to have a real good weekend and end the fall on a good note.”last_img