Klingelhoets: future bright for troubled men’s tennis squad

first_imgUW Athletic CommunicationsFollowing a first-round elimination at the Big Ten Championship last Thursday, the Wisconsin men’s tennis team closed out their 2005 campaign posting an 8-14 overall record. After compiling a 2-8 record in conference play, the Badgers received the No. 10 seed for the tournament and were defeated 4-1 by No. 7 seed Minnesota.“It was a really tough draw for us,” head coach Pat Klingelhoets said. “[Minnesota] should not have been a No. 7 seed — they were much better than that because they played a lot of their matches during the year without some of their better players … To [Minnesota’s] credit, they battled back. I thought that we played pretty good matches as far as singles, but it just wasn’t good enough, and they were probably a better team than us.”The closing of the 2005 season also marks the end of the Klingelhoets era for the Wisconsin men’s tennis team, as the head coach announced his resignation following the Minnesota loss. Klingelhoets, who took the position in 1982, departed from a program he contributed so much to at the culmination of what he calls “a very enjoyable year.”“We had one of the best groups of guys we’ve ever had,” Klingelhoets said. “The guys we had were very young, but they really worked hard in practice, and they made a lot of improvement during the course of the year. A lot of the freshmen just made a huge jump in their game, so it was fun working with such talented guys — and seeing a guy like Jeremy (Sonkin) have the kind of year he did was very rewarding.”Sonkin’s numbers do most of the talking. The 6-foot-4 freshman from Wheaton, Ill., produced a 16-5 record at the No. 2 singles position, winning 8 out of 11 matches against Big Ten opponents. He also recorded 9 wins at the No. 3 doubles spot.At the No. 4 singles position, Peruvian import Felipe Bellido impressed all season as well, claiming a 7-3 Big Ten record and tallying a 19-13 record overall.“Jeremy (Sonkin) and Felipe (Bellido) — those two guys really stand out,” Klingelhoets said. “A lot of other guys had good years also, though. Alex (Kasarov) had an excellent year at [the No. 1 position]. I think overall he was above .500, and he played great doubles for us and just had a solid year. His brother (Lachezar) improved a lot, too. Brian Ko, as well, had a very good year for a freshman coming in playing the No. 5 position.”Though the season ended on a sour note against Minnesota, the Badgers made their regular-season matchup against the Gophers one to remember as they shut out the Gopher squad in Minneapolis April 8.“It was great beating Minnesota 7-0 that time we were up there,” Klingelhoets said. “Of course they had a couple of guys out of their lineup, but we still played very well that day, so that was a fun match for us … competing hard in every match was always rewarding.”The 2005 journey was an emotional one for senior Alex Kasarov, who compiled an 11-11 singles record at the No. 1 slot and recorded an 11-10 record with his brother at the No. 1 doubles position. The captain from Bulgaria will be greatly missed by the program following his 36-51 career singles record.Despite Kasarov’s departure, the Badgers will benefit next year from their youth-filled roster with eight returning members of the 2005 squad. With freshman standouts Jeremy Sonkin, Elliot Bisnow, Felipe Bellido and Brian Ko all returning, Wisconsin’s outlook seems very bright for next season.“I think this team is in position to really have some good years coming ahead,” Klingelhoets said. “With these freshmen, if they work as hard this summer as I think they’re going to work, this team is really going to be in pretty good shape for the upcoming season.”Without the knowledge and leadership of Klingelhoets next season, the Badgers will need a strong replacement to lead the team to success. At the moment, finding a sufficient successor is a priority for the team.“It’s wide open right now,” Klingelhoets said of his replacement situation. “Obviously (assistant coach) Danny (Westerman) is going to put in for it. I certainly hope he gets some good consideration because I think he has done an outstanding job and I think he is ready to be a head coach — and be a good head coach.”last_img

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