Things haven’t been pretty for the Gophers women’s tennis team over the past month, but Minnesota managed to keep its season intact with a split over the weekend.
Decimated by injuries for a second straight year, the No. 33 Gophers pieced together a 6-1 win against Iowa on Sunday after being crushed 7-0 by Nebraska on Friday.
The split ensured the Gophers (15-7, 5-6 Big Ten) the sixth seed in the Big Ten tournament, which will pit them against Iowa once more in Thursday’s first round.
“It’s never easy to beat a team twice in the same week, but we’re looking forward to it,” head coach Tyler Thomson said. “We’re really confident and eager to have a good tournament.”
Minnesota hasn’t advanced past the second round of the Big Ten tournament since 2003, and it has struggled this season against the conference’s elite teams.
The Gophers’ loss to the No. 18 Huskers on Friday was perhaps their worst showing of the season. Minnesota lost 8-0 at both the first and second doubles positions, lost 6-0, 6-0 at first singles and blew leads in three other singles matches.
Sunday was a different story from the start, as the Gophers won easily at all three doubles positions and claimed the first four singles matches in straight sets.
Senior Magdalena Wiecha, who normally plays only at doubles, replaced the injured Alexa Palen in the singles lineup and won 6-0, 6-1 at sixth singles.
“She’s a very capable player. She’s played a lot of matches for us over the course of her career,” Thomson said of Wiecha. “She’s definitely an option for us in the Big Ten tournament [in singles].”
Doron Muravnik and Tereza Brichacova added straight-set wins at Nos. 2 and 3 singles Sunday. Both players have shown improvements playing higher in the lineup in the wake of Palen’s injury.
“When you play high in the lineup, it just kind of demands a different level of tennis,” Thomson said. “It’s great for them to have that experience.”
The Gophers have won just four of 28 individual matches against the Big Ten’s top four teams. One of those teams — Illinois, which beat the Gophers 6-1 earlier this month — has a first-round bye and will await the winner of Minnesota-Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.
Men dominate Huskers, Hawkeyes
The Gophers men’s tennis team has finished its last four successful Big Ten seasons on a roll.
This weekend, Minnesota won 13 of 14 individual matches against Nebraska and Iowa to end the regular season on a four-match winning streak.
The Gophers (13-6, 8-3 Big Ten) completed their fourth consecutive season with a winning record in the Big Ten. In each of those seasons, they won their final two matches of conference play.
Minnesota will compete as the fourth seed in next weekend’s Big Ten tournament in Evanston, Ill., and will receive a first-round bye.
The Gophers defeated Iowa 6-1 on Sunday after sweeping Nebraska on Friday.
Freshman Leandro Toledo was the only Minnesota player to lose to the Hawkeyes, who finished 0-11 in conference play and 1-21 overall.
Seniors Julian Dehn and Phillip Arndt went 2-0 in singles in their final regular-season weekend with Minnesota, and senior Michael Sicora won Sunday.
Minnesota started the season with three losses in its first four matches, and it held a 4-3 conference record two weeks ago. But after upsetting Indiana on April 14, it has surged to finish in a tie for third place in the Big Ten with Illinois.
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