Gophers head women’s tennis coach Tyler Thomson has left Minnesota to become the head coach at William and Mary, where he was an assistant from 1997-2001.
William and Mary announced the move June 21. A national search to find Thomson’s replacement at Minnesota will begin shortly.
Thomson said “a lot of factors” guided his decision — his familiarity with William and Mary, the historical success of its women’s tennis program and his and his wife’s desire to raise their kids in a smaller community.
Tyler Thomson led Minnesota's women's tennis team for 11 years.
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 “freshman phenom” has been a theme in the local sports scene this season.
Struggling Minnesota teams have turned to first-year players — such as Gophers basketball freshmen Rachel Banham and Andre Hollins and the Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio — to revive fan bases and win games.
Quietly, the Gophers women’s tennis team has managed the same type of success. But there is no “freshman phenom” to credit — just a three-member freshman class that has initiated a new culture on and off the court.
Led by Julia Courter, the Gophers’ freshman class has taken the team to new heights this season.
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.