first_imgBehind senior Marek Michalicka, the Wisconsin Badgers are anxious to avenge last year’s 4-3 loss to the Ohio State. The Badgers also host Penn State this weekend.[/media-credit]After splitting two matches last weekend, the Wisconsin men’s tennis team will wrap up its home conference schedule this weekend against the highest-ranked opponent it has faced this season. The Badgers will host No. 2 Ohio State Friday, and Sunday, they will do the same against No. 38 Penn State.The differences between the two conference opponents are stark. The Buckeyes have yet to lose a conference match, while the Nittany Lions have not won a Big Ten dual this season. Although this weekend’s opponents are so different, Wisconsin’s head coach, Greg Van Emburgh, hopes his team will keep an even keel.“I think you have to approach them the same,” Van Emburgh said. “We have to go out there and play loose and try to be confident in both matches. Obviously Ohio State is a great team, but we just need to go out there and try to perform our best tennis.”Aside from their No. 2 ranking, the Buckeyes are undefeated, and out of the six conference matches they have played, four have ended with a 7-0 victory, over Penn State, Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan State.A key factor in Ohio State’s success has been its well-seasoned roster. Behind the leadership of senior co-captains Balazs Novak and Shuhei Uzawa, as well as top singles player, junior Chase Buchanan, the Buckeyes have been nearly unstoppable this season. Buchanan has earned three Big Ten Athlete of the Week awards, adding to his collection of nine during his time at Ohio State. Buchanan has a No. 14 ranking as a singles player. On his climb to this position, Buchanan has knocked off some of the best Big Ten singles players, such as Michigan’s Even King, Michigan State’s Denis Bogatov and Northwestern’s Spencer Wolf. Van Emburgh hopes that the age difference between his young Badgers and the more experienced Buckeyes will not be an issue this weekend.“We are just a young team trying to gain experience,” Van Emburgh said. “We are still at the point in the season where we are improving. Ohio State is an older team, and they are playing some great tennis.”Although most of Wisconsin’s roster is young, it is led by senior captain Marek Michalicka. Like Ohio State, Michalicka is undefeated in singles against Big Ten opponents.“Tomorrow is going to be the biggest match of the season for me, so I’m doing my best to prepare for it,” Michalicka said.When the Badgers and Buckeyes squared off last season, Wisconsin lost the deciding match with former Badger, Moritz Baumann, on the singles court. During the dual, Buchanan handily defeated Michalicka, 6-2, 6-0. This year, Michalicka hopes to set the tone and lead his team by example with a win over the highly ranked Buckeye.“Too bad they aren’t number one; we would beat them for sure,” Micahlicka said. “Even at No. 2, it’s a good chance for us, and I know we can do it.”Penn State, meanwhile, is quite different from Ohio State, considering it hasn’t won a conference match this season. After suffering through three 7-0 losses, the Nittany Lions are coming to Wisconsin to try their luck with the Badgers. Even with the pressure of a match with the No. 2-ranked team in the country occurring two days before the dual with No. 38 Penn State, Michalicka’s strategy will remain consistent.“Our strategy before every match is to go and play our best and try to get a win; it doesn’t really change that much,” Michalicka said. “Penn State is ranked, so it’s going to be a good chance to get another ranked win.”Last season’s meeting with the Nittany Lions went well for the Badgers. Winning at all singles positions except for No. 6 Ricardo Martin, Wisconsin had few problems defeating Penn State 6-1. For the freshmen that were not a part of the team, Van Emburgh is mentally preparing the younger half of his team for any type of match, whether it is against the best or the worst in the conference.“They have to be confident and believe in what they are doing,” Van Emburgh said. “We talk to them after the matches, winning or losing. They gain experience with every match they play.”last_img