After nearly a month away from competitive match play, Minnesota's men's tennis team welcomes its stiffest competition of the fall season to the Baseline Tennis Center this week.
The Gophers, who return to the courts for the first time since the Gopher Invitational, are this year's host to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional Tournament.
Matches in the qualifying bracket begin today, with the main draw starting on Saturday. Both the singles and doubles draws will conclude on Tuesday.
Minnesota will have eight players participating in the tournament. Junior Raoul Schwark and seniors D.J. and Nic Edlefsen have all earned spots in the main draw. Seniors Sion Wilkins, Mikey Kantar and Brian Lipinski and junior Chi-Lang Pham need to win three matches in the qualifying draw in order to be placed in the main bracket.
Coach Geoff Young said he is excited to see how his team performs in its next-to-last event of the fall.
"It's a great opportunity for us to put to use some of the things we've been working on in practice," he said. "There is a lot of good competition, so it's a great opportunity."
With the exception of Penn State, the entire Big Ten conference will be participating.
Young said it is a benefit to get the opportunity to see the competition within the conference so early in the season, including Ohio State, ranked fifth in the final FIFA Collegiate Tennis Rankings last season.
Although teams won't be competing against each another at the individual event, senior captain Kantar said this tournament holds major weight in regard to how outsiders view the Gophers.
Individual rankings will be calculated based on how each player performs this week. And according to Kantar, having a group of players with high rankings will give Minnesota the credibility it wants heading into the spring.
"You always want to create a reputation outside of teams who know you, and one of the best ways to do that is get ranked," he said. "Once you have that ranking it helps because, warranted or not, people give you more respect."
Women head to Michigan
Minnesota's women's tennis team will also participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional Tournament starting today. The Gophers travel to East Lansing, Mich., to participate in the six-day event.
Seniors Ashley Schellhas and Ida Malmberg, along with freshman Tijana Koprivica will compete in the main draw. Sophomores Karina Chiarelli and Mariana Spilca, juniors Danielle Mousseau, Alex Seaton and Lindsay Risebrough will take part in the qualifying draw. All eight players will play doubles as well.
Coach Tyler Thomson said every player making the trip has a chance to make a statement this week.
"We want to make a strong showing as a team and make a statement for the spring that we're a different team, a better team, and we plan to make an impact in the Big Ten this year," he said.
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