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UW looking to improve against No. 1 Wildcats

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first_imgConfident after a three-match win streak, the No. 75-ranked University of Wisconsin women’s tennis team (5-6, 0-0) has gained some momentum in recent weeks that will prove vital in their match against the top-ranked Northwestern Wildcats (9-1, 0-0) Wednesday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium.The Badgers’ last three wins have all been non-conference victories over in-state rival Marquette, Missouri and Oklahoma, with only the Marquette match being played in Madison. As a result, Wisconsin head coach Brian Fleishman likes his team’s current mindset.“We’re in a good place right now,” Fleishman said. “We’ve won three matches pretty well. I think the girls realize that they can get the win, so they have an attitude now that they know that they can win — now they just have to accept the challenge of the competition we’re getting ready to face with the Big Ten season coming upon us.”Wednesday’s match marks the beginning of conference play in the Big Ten, and the Wildcats will certainly provide tough competition. Ranked at the top of the nation for the entire season, Northwestern has lost only once — a close 4-3 loss to No. 6 Duke Feb. 28. The Badgers know they will be tested, but they are embracing the opportunity.“We’re going to go out there and play really hard,” senior Liz Carpenter said. “We’re on our home court, so that’s an advantage, and we’ve been playing well — we’re just going out there and competing our hardest.”The Badgers have drawn a lot of their confidence from the play of Carpenter and her freshman doubles partner, Angela Chupa. Together, the two have amassed a record of 3-3 thus far and are the No. 40 doubles team in the nation. Perhaps more significantly, Carpenter and Chupa are also the first ranked members of the Wisconsin women’s tennis team in over two years.“It means a lot,” Chupa said about being ranked this year. “Being a freshman and being able to play with Liz, who’s an experienced doubles player — this is her last season and she wants to make everything of it — so it’s a pleasure for me to play with someone who really wants to go out with a bang, and I think we have potential to do really well the rest of the season.”Last Friday, Carpenter and Chupa exhibited their talent as a doubles pair, defeating Oklahoma 8-6 in a tiebreaker. Saturday, Chupa exhibited her prowess in the singles game, as she won her sixth singles match of the season over Tara Eckel in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1. The victory moved Chupa’s weekend record to 4-0 in both singles and doubles competition.Fleishman acknowledged his team’s confidence is improving every match, and sees the Northwestern match as an enticing opportunity to witness the Badgers at their best.“Anytime you play great competition, you tend to play a little bit freer in your swing,” Fleishman said. “The team has the ‘nothing to lose, everything to gain’ attitude, and I think you actually play better tennis that way.”With the Big Ten season finally getting underway, the Wisconsin women are aware they are entering the stretch run of the season. Following the Northwestern match, the Badgers will host No. 44 Indiana and No. 33 Illinois in a span of three days, and then embark on a three-match road trip beginning in South Florida. Still, the team has high expectations going into Wednesday’s match.“I expect to do well in the Big Ten (season), and I would love to go NCAAs for doubles with Liz, we just need to get our ranking up a little more,” Chupa said. “I really like playing doubles with her, and I think it would be a great opportunity for us to go to NCAAs.”Not surprisingly, Carpenter echoed her teammate’s goal of making the NCAA Championships at the end of the year. The NCAAs are the ultimate goal for every team in the nation, and Coach Fleishman sees no reason why his team is any different, just as long as the players stay confident.“Everybody here works hard — that’s not our issue,” Fleishman said. “Our only issue now is believing that we can win these matches. We just have to have the belief that we will win.”last_img read more