For several Gophers tennis players hopeful of making this year’s U.S. Open, the first leg of the journey starts at home.
The University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center will host the U.S. Open National Playoff Northern Sectional Tournament this Thursday through Sunday.
The tournament is part of the U.S. Open National Playoffs, which is comprised of 16 tournaments that allow eligible players ages 14 and older to attempt to qualify for the 2011 U.S. Open, held in August.
Several players with Gophers ties are taking aim at the Northern Sectional.
Two of the top incoming recruits for Gophers men's tennis may square off this week, Tucker Saxon and Eric Frueh.
Although Tucker Saxon and Eric Frueh will be teammates on the Gophers tennis team next year, for now the two high school seniors are old rivals.
Barring any early-round upsets, the two will likely face off in a showdown this week in the semifinal singles round of the state high school tennis tournament on campus.
It might seem like a high-pressure situation for Saxon, the three-time defending Class 2A, Section 4 singles champion at Mahtomedi, who was announced last week as the latest signed 2011-12 Gophers tennis recruit.
Two Gophers recruits are currently marching through the state tennis tournament.
3rd-ranked Tennessee is the top seed in Minnesota’s section of the bracket.
For the second time in the past three seasons, the Minnesota men’s tennis team earned the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament.
This year’s edition of the event will be held at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium at the University of Wisconsin.
On Friday, the Gophers will face the winner of Thursday’s match between 6-seed Wisconsin and 11-seed Penn State, which will likely be Wisconsin, given that Penn State is winless in the conference this year.
Minnesota defeated both teams earlier in the season, with a 5-2 win over Wisconsin and a 6-1 victory over Penn State.
The women open the Big Ten tournament against Iowa.
Sebastian Gallego returned from a foot injury in a 4-3 win over No. 18 Illinois.
Minnesota entered this past weekend with just four matches remaining on the schedule, and with postseason implications on the line, each of the four would be important.
First on the agenda was unranked Penn State, and the Gophers made sure to handle business.
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead by sweeping the doubles matches, Julian Dehn tacked on another point after winning 6-3, 6-3 in No. 5 singles and Phillip Arndt was quick to follow, posting a 6-2, 6-4 victory in No. 4 singles.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead Sunday, it appeared the Minnesota men’s tennis team would cruise to a much-needed victory over Purdue.
Not so fast.
In the matter of an hour, the Gophers watched their 3-0 lead dissolve and found themselves tied at 3 with the Boilermakers, the outcome contingent on the No. 6 singles match, where an unlikely hero rescued the Gophers from near-catastrophe.
The Minnesota men’s team led 3-0 early Sunday against Purdue, but a charge by the Boilermakers made things interesting.