With a roster full of fresh faces, Minnesota women’s tennis coach Tyler Thomson said he was looking to evaluate his overhauled rosters’ competitive nature and composure this weekend at the Gopher Invitational.
And with Gophers players combining to play 65 matches in three days, Thomson had more than enough time to see what his roster was made of during the nine-team tournament at Baseline Tennis Center.
For the weekend, Minnesota went 25-12 in singles action, while their seven doubles teams went 15-13 collectively.
Headlining the tournament for the Gophers were their three bracket winners. Freshman Tijana Koprivica took first in the Gold bracket, while senior Ida Malmberg won the Maroon consolation draw. In doubles action, the team of junior Danielle Mousseau and sophomore Mariana Spilca were crowned champions of the Stars doubles flight.
“I thought it was a great weekend,” Thomson said. “The best thing about it was just an opportunity for a bunch of the new kids to get a sense of what college tennis is about.”
“It’s still early, but it was an excellent start. We have quite a few things to work on, but that’s expected for the beginning of the season.”
Led by Koprivica, Minnesota achieved a great deal of success in singles play.
Koprivica, the highly-touted recruit from Serbia and Montenegro, breezed through her early round competition to advance to Sunday’s final against Wichita State’s Stephanie Dalmacio.
After trailing early in the first set, Koprivica rallied to pull out the match 6-4, 6-1, and in turn was crowned the Gold Singles Flight champion in her first collegiate tournament.
“I’m satisfied,” Koprivica said of her first weekend. “I think I played good in the points that were important, and that is why I won this tournament.”
Thomson said he originally intended on placing Koprivica in the top-flight, the Maroon singles bracket, but instead elected to take the advice of assistant coach Luciano Battaglini and ease her into the college game.
Regardless, Thomson said he came away impressed.
“She has a lot of things that can get better,” he said. “But the things that need work, she makes up for with her speed and creativity.”
In the Maroon singles bracket, the Gophers faced a unique situation when three of the four semi-finalists in the consolation bracket were from Minnesota. Malmberg won the draw after downing Mousseau and Spilca, on consecutive days.
In the draw’s finale, Spilca gave Malmberg all she could handle. After Malmberg rallied to win the first set 7-5, Spilca wasted little time in forcing a tie-breaker by winning the second set 6-0. Malmberg eventually won the tie-breaker 10-4 to end the match and win the consolation draw.
Malmberg said it was difficult for her to display her normal amount of intensity against her teammates, but said she was happy with her weekend performance overall.
“It’s hard for me to show emotions, knowing each other so well. But it’s a good start to the season, absolutely,” she said.
In doubles competition, the Gophers also faired favorably. Thomson said he was most impressed with the team of Mousseau and Spilca, who won the Star doubles flight after cruising by Boston’s Elizabeth Carro and Gabrielle Hernandez 8-3 in the final.
“I think the reason they did so well this weekend is because they were good at the little things. And by that I mean being consistent, not trying to do more than they are capable of. I thought they did very well this weekend.”
With a plethora of matches and a full roster at his disposal, Thomson said it was the perfect weekend for him to examine his entire squad.
“It’s absolutely ideal. Primarily because it was at home and we had a chance to play everybody,” he said. “When we go on the road, we can’t take more than ten people in the fall. Its great having everybody on the court getting so much match experience.”