Club tennis: Badgers return to nationals for second consecutive season

Club tennis: Badgers return to nationals for second consecutive season

first_imgUniversity of Wisconsin club tennis is returning to nationals with its spirits high as the April 14-16 tournament in Cary, North Carolina approaches this weekend.One season removed from an impressive seventh place finish in 2015, the Badgers will look to build upon their recent success in this year’s competition.Sixty-three other teams from across the country will be fighting for the National Championship, including the 2015 champion University of California-Berkeley, as well as 2016 Midwest regional champion University of Michigan, who defeated Wisconsin in the final of that tournament.Despite the challenge the tournament will present to the Badgers, team captain Jordan Pratt is confident the team can be just as much of a threat as it was last year.“We have most of the players back from last year,” Pratt said. “I think we have a good chance of doing just as well as we did last year, or better.”Wisconsin defeated every opponent in pool play of the 2016 Midwest regional before reaching the final against Michigan, where it lost 28-19.Despite the heartbreaking loss, the returning players have no shortage of talent, according to Pratt.“We’ve got a guy named Nick Allen — he is very talented,” Pratt said. “You wouldn’t think he was a tennis player. He doesn’t look like a tennis player at all … but I came across him at tournaments all of the time and he is one of those kids that could play varsity somewhere if he wanted to.”On the girls’ side, sophomore Elizabeth Konon is the standout. Konon won her high school tennis state championship twice, and was originally on the Wisconsin varsity tennis roster before deciding to switch to club tennis.With the tournament approaching fast, the team is mentally preparing for the challenge.But Pratt indicated the relaxed atmosphere of club tennis puts the team at ease and is when they play best.“The atmosphere of club tennis is unlike varsity,” Pratt said. “It’s more of a friendly, laid-back atmosphere that kind of takes some of the stress off. [In between matches] we’re just hanging out. Keeping everyone loose and having a good time keeps their energy up. If you go into a match too tense that is where you run into trouble.”Wisconsin’s solid season thus far is all the indication the team needs that its attitude is working.As for the physical preparation for the tournament, Pratt is making sure players get match practice as well as familiarity with team members.“We’ve been playing matches in practice,” Pratt said. “Also, we will start to pair up some of the people that are going to kind of get their chemistry going together if they are playing doubles, or just to play against people to get ready.”Despite the physical steps the team can take, the real success will come with the calm, cool and collected attitude that comes with the club atmosphere, and trust in the talent that the team possesses. If all goes according to plan, it will guide the Badgers into the tournament next weekend, and hopefully into a top slot.last_img

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