With three matches remaining and needing only one more victory in singles competition, Minnesota’s sophomore Tina Kreinis dug deep to win in three sets to clinch the Big Ten season opener for the Gophers.
Minnesota (8-4) defeated Wisconsin (6-7) 4-3 at the Baseline Tennis Center on Saturday afternoon. It was also head coach Catrina Thompson’s first Big Ten victory as a head coach.
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after taking the doubles point and the first two singles matches. However, Wisconsin made a comeback. The Badgers won two of the three matches remaining. Kreinis had the only lead for the Gophers and she was able to close it out.
“I thought we did a good job of competing, all these Big ten matches are going to be tough,” Thompson said. “Proud of the way we finished at the end of the match.”
Kreinis took the first set 6-4, but only managed to win one game in the second set losing 1-6. The third set was a battle. Kreinis built a 4-2 lead, but her opponent, Sara Castellano, came back and forced a 5-5 score. Kreinis didn’t falter. She dug deep and went on to win the next two games for a 7-5 victory in the final set. She let a loud roar out as she watched her opponent's ball hit the net.
“I didn’t care how I felt, I just really wanted to win for the team,” Kreinis said. “I want to win, everyone else wants to win and I was thinking I just have to do my job for all 11 of us on the team.”
Things were going smoothly for the Gophers through the first two single matches. Barbara Mancera was the first to finish, beating her opponent 6-1, 6-3. Cammy Frei was quick to back that up with a straight-set win 6-2, 6-1.
The No. 111 Lexi Keberle of Wisconsin beat Ryba in the No. 1 singles spot in a hard fought three-setter. Ryba lost the first set 3-6, but bounced back to win the second set 6-3. Keberle got out to a 4-0 lead in the third set, but Ryba managed to win five straight games and eventually force the match into a tiebreak in which Ryba lost 7-6.
Wisconsin came out strong beating the duo of Kreinis and Emme 6-0 in the No. 2 doubles match. However, Minnesota answered the bell behind Safdar and Merzbachers’s 6-2 win. It came down to the No. 3 spot, where Ryba and River Hart pulled away and won 6-3.
“Obviously we made it tough on ourselves being out of the entire match in the second spot,” Thompson said. “To not only get a win, but clinch a doubles point was big time for River and Caroline.”