It’s not a breeding ground for powerhouse women’s tennis, but Minnesota showed this weekend it can compete with high-powered tennis teams from the West Coast.
Tereza Brichacova cruised into the finals in her singles matches over the weekend at the Cal-Berkeley Invitational. But on Sunday — when she trailed 5-0 in the first set of the finals — she was forced to withdraw in order to make her flight back to the Twin Cities.
Minnesota battled in a weekend tournament at the Cal Nike Invite filled with first-tier teams.
The Gophers men's and women's tennis teams saw their seasons end Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament with losses to higher-ranked opponents.
The men fell 4-2 to No. 20 Tulsa in Norman, Okla., while the women fell 4-1 to No. 28 Arizona in Chapel Hill, N.C. Both Gophers teams were ranked 35th nationally.
Senior Phillip Arndt and freshman Jack Hamburg won for the men in singles to even the match at 2-2. Then freshman Leandro Toledo and senior Julian Dehn each lost in third sets to clinch the match for the Golden Hurricanes.
The men lost 4-2 to Tulsa and the women lost 4-1 to Arizona.
The men also received a bid and will play Tulsa in the first round. The women play Arizona.
The Gophers men’s and women’s tennis teams have enjoyed similarly successful spring seasons to date, but entering the final weekend of conference play, their approaches are polar opposites.
The women, who sit in the middle of the Big Ten at 4-5, seek the sixth seed in the conference’s tournament April 26-29. They can ensure that spot with wins against Nebraska and Iowa this weekend, but they could fall as low as 10th with two losses.
Neither team can win the Big Ten’s regular-season title, but both are playing well down the stretch.
The men’s team won twice on the road, including a comeback against No. 31 Indiana.
Prior to the Gophers women’s tennis team’s match at Penn State last Friday, head coach Tyler Thomson promised the team that he would get his cheeks tattooed with the letter ‘M’ for Minnesota if it won all three doubles matches.
Sure enough, the Gophers swept the doubles, and Thomson donned a new look as he watched the team close out a 5-2 win.
“It was like extra motivation for us,” top doubles player Natallia Pintusava said with a laugh.
The women’s team has lost four of its last five matches, and the men have lost three of four. The men play Indiana and Purdue on the road this weekend.