Losing weekends in any sport are bound to happen. The troubling aspect for the Gophers women’s tennis team is not that it was swept this weekend by Illinois and Indiana, but the lack of emotional maturity their head coach, Tyler Thomson, saw in his players.
“I think that we are capable of doing a much better job in areas that we can control, and that’s our attitude, our ability to stick around with competitiveness and our decision making,” Thomson said. “This team is very, very well intended, and I know that they give their best, but we still have a lot to learn.”
At home for the final full weekend regular season series, the Gophers first hosted No. 34 Indiana Friday and looked to be on the right path early.
Minnesota took two of three doubles matches to earn the one-point advantage, but during singles play, they collapsed, losing four of six singles matches to fall to the Hoosiers 4-3 in a heartbreaker.
“When you lose matches this closely, it’s not a matter of the talent,” Thomson said. “It’s some intangible things are not where they could be.”
The Gophers singles victories came from senior Jackie Sperling , who won in three sets, and junior Alessandra Ferrazzi , who bested Evgeniya Vertesheva in straight sets.
Looking to rebound Sunday, Minnesota hosted No. 36 Illinois, but the Gophers’ lackluster doubles play — Minnesota lost all three matches by scores of 8-3, 8-3 and 8-4 — inspired a stern lecture from Thomson before the team would head to singles competition.
“I told them that they need to consider the things that are coming out that reflect upon their character,” Thomson said. “When you’re playing against quality opponents like we do every weekend, there’s not room for error with that. You can’t be inconsistent with the things that you can control. You can’t control whether you get aced, but you can control how you respond to it.”
The speech failed to yield any results on the court as the Gophers lost five of six singles matches to fall to the Illini, 6-1. The lone Minnesota victory came from Tijana Koprivica , who defeated Rachael White 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
“I played exactly the way I had to, to win,” Koprivica said. “It was not necessarily the best game ever, but it was good enough to win.”
Thomson’s squad heads on the road next weekend where they will face Wisconsin on Friday and the No. 5 Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday.
On the men’s side, the Gophers were on the road this weekend, first facing off against No. 13 Illinois Saturday.
The Illini took the hard-earned doubles point after winning two of three matches by scores of 8-5 and 9-8 (7-1). Two of the three doubles matches needed a tiebreaker to be decided.
Singles play featured five ranked players in competition, with the depth of Illinois simply too much to handle. The Illini took five of six matches, including a grueling four-set victory by No. 57 Marek Czerwinski over No. 105 Tobias Wernet en route to the 6-1 victory.
Sunday was a different story, as the Gophers responded to the tough loss with a close win, edging out the Hoosiers 4-3.
Doubles play did not give an indication of the success to come as Indiana took all three doubles matches.
The Gophers earned their victory in singles as they took four of six matches, including a five-set victory by Brendan Ruddock over Will Kendall to stave off the sweep.
Minnesota returns home next weekend for their final home series of the season where they will face Northwestern Friday and Wisconsin on Sunday at Baseline Tennis Center.
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