The Gophers women’s tennis team has made the doubles point an area of emphasis all season, but the depth of the roster might be its best-kept secret.
Minnesota is a combined 30-6 at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles this season — a stark contrast to last season, when that area of the lineup was plagued with injuries and inconsistencies.
A 4-3 loss to rival Wisconsin was on the minds of players on the Gophers men’s tennis team this weekend.
They were not about to let the Badgers best them again.
“It was probably the toughest loss we’ve had in my career with the Gophers,” junior Leandro Toledo said of the loss last season. “I’d say that redemption was on our mind for sure.”
Minnesota beat Wisconsin 5-2 on Saturday at the Baseline Tennis Center.
Jack Hamburg has won six straight matches on the singles side and seven straight in doubles.
Still, when the junior from South Dakota hears those stats, he stands stoically — unmoved, uninspired, unimpressed.
To him, they’re just numbers.
His focus is on getting better — better than what he and head coach Geoff Young agree is already the best tennis he’s played in his college career.
“He’s playing really well,” Young said. “He’s really got it rolling.”
The Minnesota women’s tennis team puts a lot of emphasis on the doubles point.
On Sunday, losing it put the Gophers behind the eight ball from the start, and they never fully recovered.
Minnesota dug itself an early 3-1 deficit and couldn’t dig itself out in a 5-2 loss to No. 70 Marshall on Sunday.
“When you get a team like that at home, you want to get [the victory],” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said. “That’s just the bottom line.”
It was only the second time the Gophers relinquished the doubles point all season.
Minnesota head coach Chuck Merzbacher has raved about his team’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity this year.
That skill was on full display at Baseline Tennis Center over the weekend.
The Gophers opened with a lackluster 7-0 loss to Oklahoma State on Friday but went on to a convincing 6-1 win over Oregon on Sunday.
“We were mentally tough, and that’s really what we needed to continue to build on for the rest of the season,” Merzbacher said. “That’s going to be big come Big Ten time.”
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association implemented experimental scoring rules for the first month of this season. These rules were designed to speed up matches and make them easier for fans to watch.
These experimental rule changes also benefited the health of the student-athletes by eliminating ridiculously long matches, Gophers women’s head coach Chuck Merzbacher said.
While his team just dropped its final two matches before its first Big Ten match of the season next weekend, Minnesota head coach Geoff Young said he isn’t too concerned.
“You never want to lose, but this is the perfect opportunity to learn from our mistakes,” he said. “We need to fix those before next weekend.”
The Gophers came into the weekend winners of four straight matches, but they faltered with a 4-3 loss to Tulsa on Friday and a 4-3 loss to Harvard on Saturday.
A trip home is all the Gophers needed after losing two of their first three matches.
Minnesota won all three of its matches in the friendly confines of the Baseline Tennis Center last weekend.
Still, head coach Geoff Young said the home-court advantage has no impact on his team’s wins or its losses.
“I don’t know that there’s that much difference between being at home and being on the road,” Young said. “I like it both ways, I guess.”
His players have a different take.
A tennis racket, a tennis ball and a wall — that’s all it took for Leandro Toledo.
He was hooked.
As a 7-year-old growing up in Hamburg, Germany, his mother used to take him along to his older sister’s tennis practices.
Toledo remembers passing the time by hitting a ball against a wall off in the distance.
“That’s how it all started,” he said with a laugh. “It was just playing against a wall, but I liked it.”
It’s safe to assume that head coach Geoff Young is thankful for that wall.
The Gophers men’s tennis team got off to a rough start in its 2014 campaign. It dropped two of its first three matches — all on the road.
It only took a trip home to turn things around.
Minnesota swept a trio of matches this weekend, knocking off Green Bay and Marquette by identical 4-1 tallies Friday before beating Arkansas 6-1 on Sunday at the Baseline Tennis Center.