Men’s tennis vs. UW-Madison – newspaper

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As the national anthem's peaceful serenade was filling the air at the Helfaer Recreation Center tennis courts, two teams were lined up on opposing sides. The first team, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was at ease – laughing, smiling, and acting playful and irreverent to our nation's theme song. The other team, the Marquette Golden Eagles, was silent, motionless, and meditative – they looked like warriors preparing for battle. It was clear that they meant business.

"We wanted to come out with a lot of fire," senior captain Trent Hagan said, "We wanted to make a statement."

The intensity of the team was partly because they were playing the Badgers, the No. 31 ranked team in the country and a heated in-state rival. But the inspired Golden Eagles were also trying to make up for a fallen soldier, junior Niko Boulieriz, who was taken to the hospital the day of the match with a viral illness. The sudden news of their vocal leader not being available for the marquee match of the year shook the closely knit team. If one player goes down, it feels like the whole team goes down.

"Losing Niko is like the basketball team losing Jerel McNeal," coach Steve Rodecap said," He's our vocal leader and one of our best players. He's probably the most calm under pressure so not having him against our biggest rival was tough."

The fired up Marquette squad came into the match undefeated and confident they could hang close with the ranked Badgers. Without their team general, Hagan and fellow senior captain Stephen Shao tried to set the tone for the rest of the troops. They came out strong against the No. 9 regional team of Moritz Baumann and Marek Michalicka, matching the tough tandem volley for volley. Hagan was the most animated and emotional player on the court – which was emphasized when he delivered a powerful ace when the set was tied 7-7 and he let out yell to go with his dramatic fist pump. Ultimately, the fire of Marquette's duo wasn't enough to overcome the talent of Baumann and Micalicka, and they fell in the tiebreaker.

"I thought we competed really well, and that's all you can ask," Rodecap said, "There were certain opportunities that didn't go our way and we didn't play our best, but you can't control that. What you can control is the level you compete at and we competed great."

The close lose of Hagan and Shao in No.1 doubles would be the motif of the entire match, as the Badgers would defeat Marquette 6-1 overall in tightly contested matchups. Luke Rassow-Kantor and Michael Muskievicz defeated junior Mark Rutherford and freshman Jonathan Schwerin 8-7. Peter Marrack and Michael Dieberger defeated junior Dusan Medan and freshman Drake Kakar 8-5.

When the dust settled at the end of the match, Marquette's only point came courtesy of Rutherford, who defeated Muskievicz in singles play 6-3, 7-5.

"No one on our team played outstanding and we lost some key moments," Rutherford said, "But we were still right there."

Hagan, in particular, showed tons of heart when he battled back down 1-5 in the third set against No.36 Michalicka in singles play. He would end up losing 4-6. The team showed flashes of brilliance at times, and guys like Hagan, Shao, Medan, and Rutherford are close to breaking out. Good teams learn from a loss and are motivated by them, and this Marquette squad looks to follow that trend.

"We need to work on our composure, but we're all close enough and mature enough to handle this loss," Hagan said, "This team will come together."

"We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves," Rodecap said, "We're going to get hungry and we're going to get after it."

And judging by this teams intense display against Wisconsin-Madison, that shouldn't be hard at all.

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