Since Feb. 10, senior Felix Corwin has gone 8-1 in the No. 1 singles position for the Gophers.
Corwin, who started the season playing in the No. 2 spot, is now ranked No. 93 by ITA after starting unranked. He, along with fellow senior Matic Spec, are ranked No. 78 in doubles competition.
The move took place when sophomore Stefan Milicevic went down with a leg injury in February. Head coach Geoff Young said that once Corwin moved into the position and continued to win, there was no reason for him to leave that spot.
“There [are] three guys that can play that position, but when [Milicevic] went down and we put [Corwin] there ... it is pretty obvious to leave him be,” Young said.
It has not been an easy road to 8-1 for Corwin this season, having to play multiple ranked players.
In a weekend in early March, Corwin took down then-No. 73 Jake Douglas from Washington in straight sets and then followed that up with a victory over Portland’s then-No. 36 Michail Pervolarakis. In his eight victories as the No. 1 singles player, Corwin has only had to go into the third set twice.
“I’m taking every point with a grain of salt. I haven’t really been too worried with any specific match,” Corwin said. “I am just working on what I want to work on, and I just want to take how I’m playing and turn it into momentum for bigger matches to come.”
Corwin and Spec are the only seniors on the team and they have been paired up in doubles since their sophomore year. They have roomed together all four years at Minnesota. The duo is 7-4 and in the No. 1 spot for doubles this season.
Spec said he and Corwin like to feed off each other and he has been inspired by the play of his doubles partner and roommate.
“He is just very confident, but he might not play his greatest every day, but I think his confidence helps me and him and I know what we have to do and what it takes to win,” Spec said.
Corwin played all of last year in the No. 2 spot, going 16-11. His sophomore year, he was struggling with a wrist injury and did not play up to his ability, he said. Corwin went 6-11 that spring.
However, in his freshman year, Corwin went 28-6 in singles and 25-7 in doubles. His singles match against Northwestern clinched the Gophers their first regular season title since 1995.
He takes that experience with him and understand what it takes to win big matches.
“When we beat Northwestern, I can’t stop thinking of those matches whenever we talk about intense excitement,” Corwin said.
Corwin has big matches ahead of him on Friday night when the No. 2 team in the country visits the Baseline Tennis Center. The Gophers will face Ohio State (16-2, 3-0) in a battle of two ranked teams. Minnesota enters that duel ranked 33 in the nation.
Ohio State has three ranked players, including the No. 4 ranked player in the nation, Mikael Torpegaard. The Buckeyes have played against 11 ranked teams and have only twice lost — once to No. 7 UCLA, another time to No. 21 Georgia.
Barring an unexpected circumstance, Corwin will be asked to face Torpegaard, who is 8-2 in the No. 1 singles position for the Buckeyes and 4-1 in the No. 2 spot this season.
“We are just going to be locked in and whatever happens in years past, it won’t make a difference,” Corwin said.