Minnesota struggles in Big Ten main draws

The women’s team took part in the Big Green Invitational over the weekend.

Freshman Marino Alpeza from practices in the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Oct. 23.

Image by Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Freshman Marino Alpeza from practices in the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Oct. 23.

by Jack White

The Minnesota men’s tennis team won one match in the singles main draw and one match in the doubles main draw at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, which wrapped up on Nov. 9.
The team struggled in singles with two first round exits in the main draw from freshman Jesse Sprinkel and junior Jeremy Lynn. Freshman Marino Alpeza won his first singles match, but had to withdraw in the following round due to an injury.
“In the third set … I got in a small accident,” Alpeza said. “I got hit in the eye, so I needed to retire. … I couldn’t open my left eye. I was feeling better, so I decided to play in the consolation match.”
Alpeza won his consolation match in three sets against junior Christian Lutschaunig of Penn State the next day. Lynn won a consolation match before losing in the next round, and Sprinkel lost both of his matches in consolation.
The freshmen pair of Sprinkel and Jeremy Lynn went 1-1 in doubles, winning their first match of the main draw and losing in the second round.
Alpeza and Sprinkel won 6-4 against senior Roman Trkulja and freshman Zach Lieb of Penn State in Minnesota’s only doubles consolation match.
“We realize that the guys have a long ways to go, meaning they have [to] work harder to improve,” associate head coach Urban Ljubic said.
Women compete in Big Green Invite
The Gophers competed at the Big Green Invitational at Dartmouth over the weekend, going 8-13 in singles and 5-4 in doubles.
The team struggled in its first matchup against Dartmouth. Minnesota lost six of seven matches in singles and two of three in doubles. Senior Paula Rincon-Otero was the only player to win her singles match, and the freshmen doubles group of AnneMarie Emme and Caitlyn Merzbacher was the only pair that won in doubles against the team.
“It was a challenge to start with, but it was really great,” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said. “We started three freshman, and we kind of held our own. It was good moving everybody up.”
Minnesota bounced back against Massachusetts. The team swept in doubles with three victories and had singles wins from Rincon-Otero, Emme, redshirt senior Julia Courter and freshman Camila Vargas Gomez.
The Gophers finished the invitational against Denver on Sunday. Minnesota had three singles victories from senior Jessika Mozia, Merzbacher and Rincon-Otero. The doubles group of Rincon-Otero and Vargas Gomez earned the team’s only doubles victory against Denver.
Rincon-Otero was undefeated in singles at 3-0 and went 2-1 in doubles. She was the only player not from Dartmouth to receive all-tournament honors.
“Even though I was tired, I kept fighting,” Rincon-Otero said. “I was making the other player deal with my ball, and now I know that every time I make the player deal with my ball, it’s going to be very difficult for them, and I have a good chance of winning my matches.”