A player that figures to be a fixture at the top of the Minnesota women's tennis team's lineup for the long haul made a splashing debut over the weekend.
Freshman Alessandra Ferrazzi looked more like a fifth-year senior in her first collegiate tournament, winning the Maroon singles flight and the North doubles flight with teammate Karina Chiarelli during the three-day Gopher Invitational at the Baseline Tennis Center over the weekend.
With her parents in the crowd from her hometown of Brescia, Italy, Ferrazzi made sure their 13-hour flight was worth the effort by going a perfect 8-0 during the three-day event.
Ferrazzi started her title run Sunday by teaming with Chiarelli as the duo made quick work of Eastern Michigan's Vanessa Frankowski and Aleksandra Stankovic, 8-2, to win top doubles draw.
Less than two hours later, Ferrazzi defeated teammate Tijana Koprivica 6-2, 6-2 in the finals of the top singles flight to secure the first individual title of her collegiate career.
"Alessandra, obviously, is going to be a great addition to our team," coach Tyler Thomson said. "She is tough, she's strong and she doesn't have any glaring weaknesses.
"She's pretty poised as a freshman. She has a lot of international experience, and she's going to do well for us."
Perhaps Ferrazzi showed just how disciplined a player she can be during her semifinal matchup with Iowa State's Erin Karonis on Saturday. Trailing 3-0 in the first set, Ferrazzi won 12 of the next 14 games, winning the match in straight-sets, 6-3, 6-2 to prevent a blemish on her perfect tournament record.
"What impressed me most is that she used a lot of variety in that match. She is capable of hitting a big ball, but she showed a lot of versatility and variety in that match." Thomson said. "That will serve her well and let her win a lot of matches in college."
Ferrazzi, who was recruited by former Minnesota assistant coach Luciano Battaglini, said she was happy with how her first tournament for the Gophers ended.
"It's unbelievable because it's a different country, different court, different school, everything is totally different from Italy, so it feels pretty good," she said.
Despite having only two weeks to adjust to a seven-hour time change from Italy, and adjusting to speaking English on a full-time basis, Ferrazzi said she wasn't a bit nervous during any of her matches.
"I just tried to go on the court and do my best," she said.
Senior Danielle Mousseau, who has seen firsthand a share of foreign players adjust to playing college tennis, said she believes players coming over from different countries are typically unnerved when playing collegiate matches.
"They just come out and bring it," she said. "To say it's easy for them isn't always true, but I think on the court, they don't let anything bother them and play tennis."
For the weekend, the Gophers enjoyed the best win total of any of the seven teams competing at the tournament. Minnesota went a combined 26-15 in singles and compiled a 14-5 mark in doubles action.
"It's a great tournament to start the season out against some regional teams and get some matches under our belt," Thomson said.
"Our competition will get a little bit more challenging with every weekend, but this is a great way to start. I was really happy with a lot of things that I saw."
At the conclusion of the tournament, Thomson was quick to single out the performance of the doubles team of sophomores Mikayla Rogers and Jackie Sperling. The young duo, both of whom played in mostly a reserve role for the Gophers last season, got Thomson's full attention by going 3-1 in the top doubles flight.
"I'm very happy to single those guys out," Thomson said. "They played against quality teams, and they beat them. They came back with a newfound confidence and a new capability on the court.
"They will be challenging for spots in our starting lineup if they keep playing like that."