Growing up in Inzlingen, Germany, Moritz Baumann began playing tennis when he was five years old. Sixteen years later, the junior for the No. 43-ranked University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team (7-2) is enjoying a great amount of success.Last Sunday, Baumann and his sophomore doubles partner, Marek Michalicka, defeated the No. 1-ranked Wake Forest (5-4) doubles team of Cory Parr and Steven Forman at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. Ranked 18th heading into the match, Baumann and Michalicka defeated the Demon Deacons 8-4, despite being down 4-3 at one point, and improved their record together to an impressive 7-0.“It means that we’re up there, probably in the top 10 in doubles and that we can compete with every team out there,” Baumann said of the victory over Wake Forest. “It gives us a lot of confidence thinking about playing in the NCAAs for doubles.”While last weekend’s match was certainly difficult, Baumann is no stranger to challenges. Entering the country and arriving at the UW in January 2006, Baumann has had to adjust not only to tennis in America, but also to a foreign culture.“It was pretty tough for me to adapt to college tennis and the new culture here,” Baumann said. “Being from Germany, they obviously don’t speak the same language here. … The school, the language, getting used to everything was pretty tough.”While Baumann’s difficult beginning here is very understandable, his career has seen very few, if any, struggles. As a result of his tremendous play against Wake Forest, where he also improved his singles record to 9-0, Baumann earned his third weekly Big Ten award of 2009. Additionally, Baumann is ranked No. 36 in the nation in singles. While talent is obviously a large factor in his success, head tennis coach Greg Van Emburgh sees more in Baumann, especially in his doubles play.“They really complement each other really well, and they really just enjoy each other,” Van Emburgh said. “Obviously they’re great tennis players, but part of doubles is communication and enjoying playing with your teammate, so they really have that, and I think that’s a big part of their success.”Michalicka, the No. 60-ranked singles player in the nation, is also an international player from the Czech Republic, and he agrees that Baumann’s success is due to a large variety of factors.“He’s a great guy and a great friend; he’s very reliable, and he’s probably my best friend here,” Michalicka said of Baumann. “We’re both from Europe, so we understand each other well. Also, we are similar types of guys, so that helps a lot.”Not surprising considering the level of success he has already reached, Baumann has hopes of one day playing in the ATP World Tour. In Germany, he grew up watching the tour and followed tennis greats such as fellow German Boris Becker. However, Baumann says, he did not idolize any particular tennis players. Rather, his role models came from two sources outside of tennis: his father, and one of the most famous German athletes to play in America, NBA star Dirk Nowitzki. Van Emburgh recognizes the influence that growing up outside of the country has had on both Baumann and Michalicka.“It helps them as a team,” Van Emburgh said. “They have some similarities, being both from Europe. I think that definitely helps them.”Coming up, the Badgers will host North Carolina State and Notre Dame this weekend at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. With the Big Ten Tournament less than two months away, the team is already looking forward to see how far they can go.“You don’t ever really want to speculate,” Van Emburgh said. “Obviously they beat the number one team in the country, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s how they play on that particularly day, they can play with anybody in the country and obviously have a great chance at winning the match.”Baumann, however, is still enjoying the season as it progresses.“It’s been a great experience so far; I think I’ve improved my game, got a lot of confidence over the last couple of weeks,” Baumann said of his experience this season. “I won all my single matches, and with Marek, we won all of our doubles matches. I feel really good about myself and it gives me a lot of motivation to keep working harder.”Clearly, Baumann has exceeded every expectation that faced him since coming here three years ago. He is enjoying both his past successes and his success so far this season, while also looking forward to a potential professional career after he graduates. Despite this forward-thinking mindset, however, Baumann is not about to forget what he went through to get to where he is now.“I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and about life, and it’s always good seeing other countries and other cultures,” Baumann said of his transition from Germany to Wisconsin. “It’s really helped me a lot, all these experiences.”Baumann has a very good chance to compete at the NCAA tournament in doubles with Michalicka, and also might have an opportunity to compete in singles as well. Having these chances not only provides more opportunities for success, but also allows Baumann to add to the already long list of experiences he has had since leaving Germany for the U.S. The crowning achievement on that list, however, may very well not come until he is long gone from the University of Wisconsin: a chance to win a championship on the ATP World Tour.
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s 2019-20 season was a rollercoaster in the truest sense of the word.While the Badgers season ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team rebounded after a rough start and finished the regular season with a 21-10 record, going 14-6 in the Big Ten to capture a three-way share of their first regular-season title in five years.Whether it was junior guard Kobe King’s decision to leave the team or the resignation of UW’s strength and conditioning coach due to accusations of him using a racial slur, the beginning of the season had many sports analysts and fans alike writing off the Badgers, citing coaching and player development issues as reasons for the team’s struggles.Men’s Basketball: Could Badgers really have captured 2020 national title?In a strange, unofficial end to the 2020 Wisconsin men’s basketball season, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index christened the Badgers as Read…This criticism, while harsh, was increasingly valid as the Badgers closed out the first month of their season with a 4-4 record, showing great inconsistencies in their play marked by losses against less-talented programs such as Richmond, New Mexico State and North Carolina State.The squad finished the remainder of 2019 with a 4-1 record, and started 2020 off with a bang, defeating No. 5 Ohio State in Columbus 61–57. This momentum carried the team throughout the remainder of the season, leading them to a 12-5 record with marquee wins against nationally-ranked Maryland, Michigan State and Michigan. The Badgers won their final eight games, helping them secure the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament, which was set to begin on March 11.While there is no doubt the disappointment of the season ending early is immeasurable, the 2019-20 season was one to be proud of. The team battled through many seemingly impervious obstacles, and the resiliency and determination they maintained as a group is nothing to bat an eye at.One key reason for Wisconsin’s late-season bounceback was the stellar play of junior transfer Micah Potter, who averaged 10.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game during his first season as an eligible member of the team. Starting off the season on the bench, the spark he provided whenever he was inserted into the Badgers’ lineup was undeniable, leading to him becoming a key member of the squad down the stretch.Another essential player during Wisconsin’s eight-game win streak to close out the season was junior guard D’Mitrik Trice, whose 28 points and four assists against Michigan helped secure the victory and propel the team to the top of the Big Ten standings.Men’s Basketball: Badgers declared NCAA National Champions in ESPN simulationThe Badgers have done it, they have pulled off one of the greatest turnarounds in college basketball history. The Big Read…While these few players were pivotal in terms of the team’s success, the Badgers’ remarkable turnaround was truly due to the ability of the squad to come together as one unit and win tightly contested games together, not as individuals. This aspect of the team is what Head Coach Greg Gard chose to hone in on during an interview with the Big Ten Network March 9.“The chemistry, camaraderie, and unification of the team has grown immensely,” Gard said. “They’ve played so unselfishly, they’ve just concerned themselves with what’s on the front of the jersey, they don’t care who gets the credit, they don’t care who gets the points as long as Wisconsin is successful.”After calls for Gard to be fired emerged among analysts and Badger fans alike in late January, Gard led the team to success despite the loss of King, culminating in a Big Ten Coach of the Year Award selection.Men’s Basketball: Senior send-off for Brevin PritzlWith the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s season coming to an abrupt end due to the coronavirus, Badger fans Read…When asked how the team moved forward after the unfortunate departure of King, Gard once again stressed the importance of the Badgers’ unification.“I think they came together, they understood that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” Gard said. “Once they figured that out and truly believed in that, they just took off.”Gard went on to acknowledge that while no Badgers were selected to the All-Big Ten first or second teams, they were able to find their success as a committee.In the last eight games of the regular season, no single player scored the most points more than twice, as junior Nate Reuvers put up 11 points against Northwestern and 17 points against Indiana, and junior Brad Davison dropped 30 points against Nebraska and 20 points against Minnesota.“They’ve just understood that if we bond together, we stick together, we stay true to who we are, and we continue to work, great things can happen,” Gard said. “This is the ultimate definition of what a team can accomplish when they work together.”The Badgers were primed to make a deep postseason run, and while the squad no longer has a chance to capture the Big Ten championship and make a run towards the Final Four, the accomplishments and strides they took throughout the regular season offers great hope for the future of Wisconsin’s basketball program.