Women drop two more conference matches

Also, the men beat Northwestern but couldn’t top Wisconsin, falling 5-2.

Senior Dino Bilankov plays against Wildcats Andrew McCarthy on Sunday at Baseline Tennis Center.

Senior Dino Bilankov plays against Wildcats Andrew McCarthy on Sunday at Baseline Tennis Center.

Max Sanders

As the regular season nears conclusion, the Gophers womenâÄôs tennis team finds itself in its worst slump of the season. After having their off-court toughness questioned by head coach Tyler Thomson following last weekendâÄôs two losses, Minnesota continued to struggle against Big Ten competition, losing on the road to Wisconsin and Northwestern. The Gophers started strong Friday against the Badgers, winning all three doubles matches to earn the point advantage but could not continue that effort in singles competition. Wisconsin took two of the three opening singles matches, but Minnesota bounced back, splitting the next two matches to put the fate of the teamâÄôs fortunes in the hands of the final singles matchup between Kathleen Saltarelli of Wisconsin and Magdalena Wiecha of the Gophers. Fittingly, the tilt for the team victory took a third-set tiebreaker to be decided, with Saltarelli eventually coming through with the 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) victory. Sunday against Northwestern, Wiecha got her revenge, beating the WildcatsâÄô Elena Chernyakova in singles competition, but it was the lone bright spot for Minnesota, which fell to Northwestern 6-1. The Gophers failed to match the depth of a Wildcats squad that boasts three nationally ranked players, two in the top 100. The second consecutive winless weekend for ThomsonâÄôs squad leaves Minnesota 10-12 overall, including a 3-6 record in the Big Ten. The Gophers have one match remaining, Sunday April 25th against Purdue at Baseline Tennis Center, before they head to the Big Ten championships beginning Apr. 29 in Iowa. On the menâÄôs side, Minnesota has continued a trend that has now lasted for a month, as they split the weekendâÄôs two matches for the fourth consecutive weekend. No. 37 Minnesota once again began the weekend strong, winning two of three doubles matches against the Wildcats. Knowing he was facing a Northwestern team that performs well in singles, Gophers head coach Geoff Young was glad his team could take the point advantage heading into singles play. âÄúThat was key to get that, because singles was so close,âÄù Young said. Singles competition featured three matches that went three sets. When it was all said and done, Minnesota took four of six singles matches to win 5-2. Against No. 32 Wisconsin, the Gophers could not continue their success from FridayâÄôs victory, as they fell to the Badgers 5-2. Wisconsin took two of three doubles matches and never looked back, winning four of the ensuing six singles matches. All was not lost for the Gophers on Sunday however, as No. 80 Sebastian Gallego pulled off a huge upset, besting No. 22 Marek Michalicka in three sets, 2-6, 6-4 and 6-2. In other ranked action from Sunday, No. 102 Tobias Wernet fell to No. 17 Moritz Baumann 6-4, 7-5. Minnesota wraps up its regular season next weekend on the road, where the Gophers will first play Purdue on Saturday before ending the regular season Sunday in Iowa against the Hawkeyes.