When senior Caroline Ryba took the court on Friday afternoon, she celebrated her 50th consecutive start in the Gophers' No. 1 singles position.
For Ryba and the Gophers, the weekend could not have gone much better.
The Gophers (7-1) came out victorious in all three of them as they beat Marquette (1-3) , South Dakota (2-5) and Drake (6-1) at the Baseline Tennis Center.
Minnesota defeated Marquette 6-1 on Friday afternoon and then followed that up with a victory over South Dakota by the same score. Minnesota took down Drake 7-0. River Hart made her first start in the season after coming back from being out with sickness and went undefeated on the weekend.
“I thought we started off a little sluggish in doubles, but finished really strong so I was proud of them for that,” head coach Catrina Thompson said.
Minnesota finished a busy weekend, which included three dual matches, with a victory on Sunday against Drake. Hart won her third singles match of the weekend in the No. 5 spot. She also won her first doubles match of the season pairing up with the veteran Ryba to win 6-1.
The Gophers clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 victory from Cammy Frei and Annemarie Emme.
Tina Kreinis was left out of the lineup, which allowed Hart to play in the third doubles match with Ryba. Frei is normally Ryba’s partner, but she played with Emme in the No. 2 spot. The No. 1 doubles pairing of Mehvish Safdar and Caitlyn Merzbacher lost their match 6-4, but the Gophers already had clinched the point.
In singles, Hart was the first player on Minnesota to win a match. She took care of her opponent in quick fashion — 6-1, 6-1.
Barbara Mancera followed that with a win of her own in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Emme earned the Gophers the clinching fourth point in a straight set victory as well, going 6-4, 6-4. Merzbacher and Camila Vargas Gomez also took down their opponents in straight sets. Ryba was the last to finish, playing in a three-set thriller with a native of Minnesota, Summer Brills, who went to Mounds View High School. Ryba outlasted her 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.
"The first two weekends I didn't get to play so I got to watch the team fight for every single point," Hart said. "I worked really hard last week, so I am happy that this weekend went really well."
Gophers blow out Marquette
Merzbacher and Safdar began the day collecting a victory in the No. 1 doubles spot by defeating their opponents 6-1. Kreinis and Emme clinched the doubles point for Minnesota after their 6-2 win.
Hart, the freshman from the Bahamas, picked up her first collegiate win in the No. 5 spot for the Gophers beating Isabella Franks of Marquette 6-1, 6-3. Her win gave the Gophers the clinching fourth point of the dual. Emme made quick work of her opponent 6-2, 6-3 and Merzbacher collected the third point beating Andrea Amortegui 6-1, 6-4.
“Really important for us today was getting quick wins in doubles,” Thompson said. “I was really proud of one doubles; they really took care of business on their court.”
Ryba won her 50th consecutive start in the first position 6-2, 6-4. Vargas Gomez also collected a victory. Kreinis was the only Gopher to drop a match. She battled, but in the end she was defeated by Natalija Popovic 2-6, 6-3 (11-9).
Gophers sweep the first day of action
The Gophers defeated South Dakota University 6-1 on Friday night. Minnesota once again took the doubles point. The doubles pairing of Ryba and Emme finished first out of the three doubles matches and won their match 6-3. Safdar and Merzbacher clinched the doubles with 6-1 win.
Hart, for the second time that day, earned the clinching fourth point for the Gophers. She defeated Anastasiia Bondarenko 6-2, 6-1. Merzbacher was first to finish in the singles portion of the dual after she beat her opponent without dropping a game 6-0, 6-0. Frei picked up a victory in the No. 6 spot 6-1, 6-1.
Ryba won in straight sets. Mancera played in a three-set thriller 1-6, 6-4, 10-4. She was down in the second set and was able to come back and not only win that set, but win the match in its entirety.
“Most courts got off to a good start and overall we did a really good job of competing,” Mancera said. “After last weekend’s loss it was good to come back and win back to back 6-1.”