Men, women bring different goals into final regular-season weekend

The men’s team can secure a spot in the NCAA tournament with a successful weekend.
April 18, 2013

Both of Minnesota’s tennis teams will host Senior Day during the weekend, but only one has a postseason goal in sight.

The Gophers men are a virtual lock to make the NCAA tournament, but a strong showing this weekend will ensure their spot.

Minnesota’s women’s tennis team, on the other hand, has been riddled with injuries this year and doesn’t have a realistic shot at the postseason.

Both head coaches are approaching the final weekend in a similar fashion.

Men’s coach Geoff Young said he’s focusing on his opponents — Nebraska and Iowa — but is excited for the chance to celebrate the lone senior on his roster.

Rok Bonin will play his final Gophers match at Baseline Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon.

Bonin has emerged as one of the most consistent players on the squad this season and has locked down the No. 1 singles spot. He is 22-10 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten.

The senior has started to hit his stride as of late, which was evident in his 6-0, 6-2 win a week ago that lasted less than an hour. He said he feels as confident as ever on the court.

Young said it will be special to watch Bonin play his final home match.

“He’s been fantastic for us on and off the court,” Young said. “It will be sad, but I’m also excited for him to move on to the next stage in his life.”

Bonin, a native of Slovenia, said his college years melded together, but this weekend will give him a chance to take a step back and remember his entire career.

“It’s going to be more bitter than sweet,” Bonin said. “I had a great four years here, and for it to be over this weekend, it’s going to be pretty sad.”

Though the women’s tennis team doesn’t have much to play for this weekend, head coach Chuck Merzbacher seemed confident his squad will finish on a high note.

“I’ve seen it all season from these guys,” he said. “They don’t quit. It’s easy to stay motivated because we are getting better through our struggles.”

Merzbacher said the fact that Friday is Senior Day will add fuel to the roster.

“We’re excited for it,” he said. “Those two are beloved by their teammates, and the girls want to and are going to play hard for them.”

Merzbacher said this year has been a struggle because the two seniors — Doron Muravnik and Alexa Palen — have missed so much time with injuries.

Muravnik has played in only 15 singles matches this season, and Palen has played in three.

“We missed their leadership on the court a lot this year,” Merzbacher said. “I’m excited to be able to celebrate their careers over the weekend.

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