Badgers net NCAA berth

first_imgSetting goals in a sport can be a tricky thing. How high a team sets its sights can often be a reflection of how much it believes in itself. It is very easy, and often temping, to set goals that are easily achieved. It takes much more, however, to set sights high, knowing that the feeling of achieving them would be well worth the extra effort.At the beginning of the year, the UW men’s tennis team decided to choose the latter. Lofty goals were set in place. A top four finish in the Big Ten. A berth in the NCAA tournament. The success that followed the formation of these goals has taken months and months of hard work, but after a strong finish last weekend at the Big Ten tournament in West Lafayette, the Badgers are in position to create a whole new set of goals as they head into the NCAAs this Friday.The men have definitely been on a roll as they have closed out the regular season. Coach Greg Van Emburgh believes that, outside of the two losses to Ohio State, his team has played exceptional tennis leading into the postseason. “We have really tried to look at the seasons in much the same way that the football did this fall,” Van Emburgh said. “We look to approach each match with a 0-0 mentality.”So far, that mentality has worked for the 15-10 Badgers, who impressed the NCAA selection committee enough to garner an at large bid to the national tournament, only the fourth in UW history. “I think (a tournament berth) is the ultimate goal,” Van Emburgh said in a press conference Monday. “You want to be successful, and you want to be successful across the board. I think it’s important that the guys look at it and have a great attitude, play loose, and just take the opportunity at hand.”For the 2007 men’s tennis team, the “opportunity at hand” is a place in the history books, as no UW team has ever made it past the first round of the tournament. The last time that the Badgers even made the tournament was in 1998. History aside, Van Emburgh is has been very optimistic. “We had some great results early on in the year starting with clinching that win over Miami. They were a top-10 team at that point, and winning there was huge for us from a confidence standpoint,” Van Emburgh said.Another huge boost in confidence for the team came in January with the arrival of freshman Moritz Baumann, who quickly became one of the team’s most dangerous weapons. Baumann, who hails from Germany, was recently named to the all-Big Ten team, the only freshman in the conference to do so. In winning the award, Baumann became only the second Badger freshman ever to be named all-conference, the first being Ken Thomas thirty years ago in 1977.”Moritz has had a huge impact on our team this season. He had to go through a lot in coming here and he had done a superb job in filling into high spots for us when we have needed him,” the Badgers head coach said. “It wasn’t easy for him, especially coming over in January, but he has played at an unbelievable level for us.”Baumann recently moved up to the No. 1 spot for the Badgers after playing his first 16 matches in the Nos. 2-4 slots. The adjustment, while substantial, has seemed to have little impact on his game, as the frosh defeated the then No. 28 ranked player in the country in OSU’s Devin Mullings in the Big Ten tournament. The win, UW’s only in the day’s 6-1 loss to the Buckeyes, has moved Baumann up to the national rank of No. 118, a tremendous accomplishment considering his youth and unfamiliarity with the conference coming into this year.The Badgers will kick off their tournament this Friday at 1 p.m. against the University of Washington Huskies, a remarkably similar team to UW’s. The two teams have actually played three of the same opponents on the year and achieved virtually the same results. Both teams dropped matches to Notre Dame and Ohio State.Washington, however, lost to UW boarder rival Minnesota a team the Badgers beat 5-2 last month. For the Huskies, the tournament isn’t anything new, as the school will be making its 13th straight trip this weekend. But as coach Van Emburgh has been preaching all along, “What matters most is who wants it more. We have been playing hard all season, and even in accomplishing our goals, we know we still have something to prove. This season is far from over.”last_img read more