“It’s started a real thirst to be in that environment again,” Martinez added. “For our younger players, it is the first time they’ve been in Europe and the way we succeeded in many of those games, going away into different countries and being able to perform has been very important. “I do feel that the players in the squad, myself, my staff and the football club as a whole will want more of it. It gives you a real desire to push ourselves to become a winning team and have that more often. “We’re all disappointed from the result last night but to reach the quarter-finals of this competition is something we last did 30 years ago, that shows you the size of the achievement.” The Toffees were the country’s last hope on the continent before a 5-2 loss to Dynamo Kiev in Europe on Thursday night meant they followed Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City in crashing out at the last 16 stage. It meant that there were no English teams in Friday’s draw for either the Champions League or Europa League quarter-finals for the first time since 1995, sparking a countrywide debate about the state of the domestic game. Press Association However, Martinez believes it is the competitive nature of the Premier League, coupled with a lack of a winter break, which is hampering clubs when they face fresher, less-tested teams in European competitions. “I think there are aspects there that make it very, very difficult for an English club to have success in Europe,” the Spaniard said. “If you look at the top leagues in Europe most of those have got a little break in the winter. I’m not saying that’s the difference but it can make a big difference in a squad that is playing domestically two cup competitions, when others are playing one cup competition. “We need to understand that our league is the best in world football. And when I say the best it’s because if you are at 70 per cent in a game, you’re going to lose it. That’s how competitive it is. It doesn’t matter about position in the table and I don’t think the other leagues have that. “The top teams that are normally involved in Europe can cruise through games and that makes it a lot easier to plan a group of fixtures in a two-to-three-week period. That is a big difference and that affects English clubs. “It’s not by coincidence. Some of the clubs in the Champions League have been unfortunate, there have been small margins but those small margins could easily be the demands that you face domestically. It’s something that clearly hasn’t been working in our favour.” Martinez’s men were ruthlessly eliminated in Kiev by a display of clinical attacking finishing as the hosts exposed their visitors’ defensive frailties. But while the manner of their exit was disappointing to Martinez, he took plenty of heart from a campaign which saw them beat Wolfsburg home and away and take four points off Lille in the group stage. Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists it is no major surprise that English clubs have struggled in Europe this season because of the domestic demands of the Barclays Premier League.
The Wisconsin women’s tennis team concluded their non-conference season on Saturday finishing with a record of 9-3 in non-conference play.The Badgers’ early season success included a sweep of all the Wisconsin schools on their schedule – Green Bay, Milwaukee and Marquette – and capped off the non-conference schedule with a 7-0 sweep of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.Head coach Brian Fleishman is happy with the way his team has started the year and hopes they can learn from their losses.“We competed well at times,” Fleishman said. “I think we let some opportunities slip away, but I think we learned from those matches that we didn’t take advantage of and I think we can become a better team from those losses.”With the non-conference schedule out of the way, the Badgers now set their sights on their Big Ten campaign that begins this weekend at Michigan.The Big Ten will prove to be a demanding test for UW featuring three teams – Michigan, Northwestern and Nebraska – in the top 25 of the ITA rankings this year and eight schools in the top 75.Fleishman appreciates just how strong the Big Ten is this season.“[The Big Ten] is a competitive conference this year,” Fleishman said. “It’s much deeper than it was last year. After Northwestern and Michigan, it’s kind of who’s going to play better on that given day.”The Big Ten holds two top-25 singles players in Emina Bektas from the University of Michigan and Kate Turvy from Northwestern University. Bektas has only lost one match in the season and has already beaten the No. 8 singles player in the country, Chelsey Gullickson from the University of Georgia, this year.The conference breaks into the rankings in doubles as well with Northwestern and Michigan both having a pair in the top 25.Wisconsin senior Angela Chupa is going into her third season of Big Ten play and understands that the Big Ten as a whole is improved from just a season ago.“[The Big Ten] is very competitive this year,” Chupa said. “Every team has gotten better. In the past there has been just a couple of dominant teams and everyone else, this year every team has a chance for an upset. We’re just going to beat up on each other.”Wisconsin has not had a winning season in Big Ten play under Fleishman’s four seasons but came dangerously close last year, earning a 5-5 mark against conference foes.The Badgers have only played one conference game this year against the University of Minnesota, which resulted in a 5-2 loss.Fleishman knew his team missed an opportunity to win the first conference match this year.“We let the Minnesota match slip away from us,” Fleishman said. “[Minnesota] is a much better team this year than they were last year and they played really well against us.”In the loss to the Gophers, freshman Sarah Loebel got her first taste of conference play, losing at the No. 3 singles spot. Loebel has a winning record this year in singles matches at 7-4 but admits that while her first Big Ten match was a little intimidating initially, she eventually enjoyed the challenge her first taste of conference play produced.“I was really nervous,” Loebel said. “But the match was really exciting, I thought. And I hope we get some good wins in the Big Ten.”Wisconsin hopes that their early season success will lead to continued success in the gauntlet that is the Big Ten conference.Chupa knows the matches are going to be tough but the only thing that she and her teammates can do is play as hard as they can and hope that they come out on top.“We will have to battle,” Chupa said. “A lot of these matches are going to be really tough. Whoever fights the hardest and wants it the most is going to come out on top. We can never give up, just keep fighting even if you are down because you can always turn it around.“We just need to have fun. That’s what it comes down to – when we are having fun, we play our best.”