Badgers Men’s Tennis season ends in second round of NCAA Tournament

Wisconsin loses 4-0 to USC
Badgers Men’s Tennis season ends in second round of NCAA Tournament

One of the most successful seasons in Wisconsin men’s tennis history came to an end Saturday at Marks Stadium in Los Angeles as the Badgers suffered a 4-0 defeat to No. 5 USC in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Wisconsin (18-8), which finished the season with the eighth-highest win total in school annals, started slowly against the Trojans and the Badgers’ second-set comeback efforts were not enough to overcome one of the top programs in collegiate tennis.

“I told the guys they should feel a little bit down,” head coach Danny Westerman said after the match. “I felt like we didn’t give them our best punch today. We started coming back, we started fighting, but it just got away from us a little.

“I want them to remember this moment, so this summer and this fall they remember to get to that next level. We learned from last season and took some big steps forward and now we need to do the same moving into next year.”

After dropping the doubles point to open the match, the Badgers got behind quickly in singles play. Junior Josef Dodridge was the only UW player to earn a first-set win and held a 7-5, 3-3 lead on Nick Crystal on court 2 when his matched was suspended.

A day after knocking off No. 93 Filip Vittek of San Diego, Lamar Remy faced an even tougher opponent on Saturday in USC’s Brandon Holt, the nation’s 19th-ranked player. Remy dropped the opening frame 6-2, but had pushed Holt to 5-6 in the second set when his match went unfinished.

Freshman Daniel Soyfer also rallied in the second set on court 6, bouncing back from a 6-2 loss in the opening set, to knot the score at 6-6 in the second stanza. Soyfer held an early lead in the tie-breaker when the match was clinched and his contest went unfinished.

“USC is one of the premier programs, so now our guys have seen it and I think they’re going to remember that USC is really good but not this many sets better,” Westerman added. “You have to be in it to know. Fortunately, we’ve got seven of our top eight guys coming back, including each of our top six singles players. Our future is bright, but the mountain gets steeper.”

The strides the Badgers have made in two seasons under Westerman are undeniable. After going 7-17 in 2015, Wisconsin improved to 14-9 in 2016 and now 18-8 this season, including advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament for just the fourth time in program history.

“I think ultimately we’ll be able to look back and say that we pretty much maximized our progress this season. This summer and this fall, we have another 6-8 months until next January and a lot of hard work to develop. I feel like the culture is there, the competitiveness is there, the fight is there and the work ethic is there. Now we can really get specific with their development because all the hard things to get started are now in them. That’s what I’m really excited about.”