Gophers competition not getting any easier

TheyâÄôre on the road to Evanston again. Except this time itâÄôs the womenâÄôs turn to send nine players to compete against some of the top Big Ten and non-conference teams this weekend at the Northwestern Wildcat Invitational. ItâÄôs been three weeks since the Gophers attended the Drake Invitational where senior Karina Chiarelli landed a singles title. Chiarelli, along with sophomore Alessandra Ferrazzi will compete in the âÄúAâÄù flight this weekend. Since the Drake Invitational, Minnesota has been focusing on what could always be improved upon: doubles. The strong team of Ferrazzi and junior Tijana Koprivica that won a consolation title at the Cal Nike Invitational will pair up again this weekend in the âÄúAâÄù flight of doubles. Junior Jackie Sperling and freshman Magdalena Wiecha will also show off their doubles skills in the âÄúAâÄù flight as they did at Drake . As for the season, Coach Tyler Thomson has no worries with players like senior Alex Seaton being put into the doubles mix. âÄúSheâÄôs somebody who is undoubtedly one of our best doubles players,âÄù Thomson said. He added later that, âÄúI actually feel like weâÄôre going to have a very good doubles team this yearâÄù The Gophers face similar if not a higher level of competition this weekend as they will be joined by the powerful LSU team that virtually controlled the Gopher Invitational. âÄúTheyâÄôre a perennially good team. TheyâÄôre always one of the better teams in the [Southeastern Conference]. TheyâÄôre as good as they are in large part because of their number one player who was number one in the nation almost the entire year during her sophomore year ,âÄù Thomson said. Also in attendance is a strong Michigan State team , and of course, host Northwestern . A team that was ranked number one in the nation for the duration of last season , there is no doubt the Wildcats will perform on their home courts. âÄúTheyâÄôre easily the most dominant team in this tournament,âÄù Thomson said. The team is stacked with some of the top players in the nation, including senior Georgia Rose and sophomore Maria Mosolova . Both have been ranked No. 1 in the country at points in their accomplished careers. Even with the traditionally strong teams like Northwestern and LSU bound to succeed over the weekend, Minnesota will play the best they can with what they have. âÄúIt is going to be a tough tournament, but we have a competitive team. I think everyone is going to go out and fight really hard. WeâÄôre going to look for some upsets,âÄù Jackie Sperling said. However, the general consensus within the team is that, again, this is just another step along the road. âÄúThe wins and losses in these tournaments are irrelevant unless you are talking about opportunities to improve, the chance to get nationally ranked, or improve your position of getting selected for the ITA Regional,âÄù Thomson said. Northwestern is the final full team tournament for the Gophers this fall before the ITA Midwest Regional, starting October 23.