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Badgers relying on junior tandem

first_imgThe inexperienced University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team framed an inspiring picture for the upcoming fall season after encouraging results at last weekend’s Cincinnati Invitational. Greg Van Emburgh, who enters his second year as Badgers head coach, believes his squad’s competitiveness ranks among the highest in recent UW tennis history.”I think we have a great team this year, it is probably one of the best teams we have had here in a long time,” Van Emburgh said.The coach’s resounding optimism originates principally from two sources: Jeremy Sonkin and Nolan Polley. During the fall season, the talented tandem earned spots in the national preseason Collegiate Tennis Rankings.In singles, Polley ranks No. 74, six spots ahead of Sonkin. Wisconsin has not placed multiple players in the men’s preseason rankings since 2001, a fact which surely strengthens Van Emburgh’s enthusiasm.Nevertheless, Van Emburgh does not wholeheartedly endorse ITA rankings, and he implied Wednesday that Wisconsin might be underrated.”I don’t think the [current] rankings will be a reflection of where the team will be at the end of the year,” he said.Van Emburgh gave no indication as to which player would fill the team’s No. 1 singles spot next spring as both Polley and Sonkin are capable of holding the coveted top position.Polley, last year’s No. 2 singles player, recorded a team-high 30 victories last season. Sonkin’s profile is equally impressive, as he held UW’s No. 1 singles spot and was named an all-Big Ten selection last season.Team injuries are a principal concern for the young coach. Sonkin and Polley each missed this past weekend’s invitational. Sonkin hopes to return to action this Sunday for the All-American Tennis Championships, but Polley’s nagging shoulder injury will force him to miss the team’s next tournament and limit his play during the fall. Despite these setbacks, Polley, Sonkin and the rest of the team practice two hours a day, in a stalwart effort to improve from last year. A large banner hangs prominently at the Nielsen Tennis Center, with boxed-in names of every UW player named to all-Big Ten honors.Jeremy Sonkin believes this team possesses the ability to add at least a couple of names to that banner. “The one thing we were lacking [last year] was the will and the fight to win … but I think we have that this year,” Sonkin said, who credits two newcomers, freshmen Michael Dierberger and Michael Muskievicz, for improving team chemistry.On the contrary, the Badgers’ structural chemistry remains largely unchanged since last year, as Wisconsin lost no one to graduation.Van Emburgh selected his lone senior, Lachezar Kasarov, as team captain for the 2006-07 season. The head coach also recently named Evan Austin, a former player of Van Emburgh’s at Kentucky, the men’s new assistant head coach.”I think he’s going to be one of the top assistants in the country,” Van Emburgh said. “He’s a great guy and [was once a] great player. He’s had wins against [U.S. professional Andy] Roddick and other top players. We are real fortunate to have him here.”The Badgers’ two nationally ranked players, promising pair of freshman, seven returning starters and new assistant head coach gives the team a competitive edge. Van Emburgh has established a new foundation for the men’s tennis program, but perhaps more importantly, as Jeremy Sonkin articulated, he’s trying to instill a strong competitive drive for success.”He wants us to fight and play as hard as we can, It is really a shame to go into matches, with putting as much effort and work as we have into all our practices, to not give everything we have.”last_img read more

Dalung Questions Foreign Coach for S’Eagles

first_imgNigeria’s Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has questioned the quest by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to appoint a foreign coach when they cannot even pay their local coaches.The NFF is set to soon appoint a new coach for the country ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with Frenchman and former Cameroun coach Paul Le Guen the front runner. But the sports minister has questioned the rationale behind this, describing it “a fundamental contradiction not easy to swallow”.“When you can’t pay the local coaches, do we still go and look for a foreign coach?,” Dalung questioned.“It’s a fundamental contradiction not easy to swallow and we want the best for Nigeria.”Several of the national team coaches have not been paid for several months by the cash-strapped NFF, who have announced they are shopping for a sponsor for the foreign coach.Previous Eagles coaches including late Stephen Keshi and Sunday Oliseh complained they were owed salaries.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more