Men’s team needs All-America candidate Chicoine to star

by Stephanie Strommen

It’s become a common occurrence for the Gophers men’s tennis team — starting the season slow before rebounding to pull off a string of late season upsets that lead the way to the NCAA tournament.
Minnesota had an even year overall, compiling a 14-13 record last season. But that doesn’t reflect the strong finish the Gophers pulled off in winning the regional tournament and advancing to the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The National Clay Courts tournament Sept. 25 in Baltimore will give a pair of Minnesota players their first chance to make last season’s desperate run look like more than a fluke.
Senior Tom Chicoine, ranked 22nd in the country, will be one of 20 players in the tournament’s main draw, and junior Martin Michalowski was accepted into the qualifying round of the tournament. If the players can advance deep into the tournament, it should boost the Gophers’ national ranking.
Coach David Geatz expects a solid performance by Chicoine.
“Tom does a great job for us,” Geatz said. “He could be the best player in the Big Ten and he could maybe even win the NCAAs. He’s fast, he competes well and he has a great backhand.”
Chicoine has set high goals for himself as well. He almost qualified for the U.S. Open earlier this month, losing in the semifinals of the entry tournament.
“I’d like to see myself an All-American this year,” Chicoine said. “I missed it by one match last year.”
With Chicoine at the number one singles position, the team has a leader in number and spirit. Geatz said Chicoine has been a determined competitor who fights hard. But Chicoine will not be the only experienced player coming back.
Geatz said sophomore Tyson Parry has made strides in the off season, competing in individual summer tournaments. He took first place in a small, pro-level tournament in Rochester, and Geatz said he expects Parry will be the biggest surprise of the season. Geatz said he will most likely compete for the number two singles position.
“We have the entire team returning and have added three freshmen,” Geatz said. “Our guys really like to play. We’re looking forward and out.”