Men and women open fall slate with weekend tourneys in Michigan and Alabama

Zach Eisendrath

Despite a disappointing 2004-05 season, sophomore Jane Anderson said she is confident that she – along with the rest of the women’s tennis team – can turn things around this fall.

The road to success starts this weekend at the Bronco Invitational in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“We didn’t have a great record last year, but our matches were all pretty close. We just didn’t close out very well,” Anderson said. “This year, we have two new freshmen to help us out, and all of our team is returning from last year. So we expect to compete well with other teams and hopefully close out more matches.”

The two new additions, freshmen Karina Chiarelli and Mariana Spilca, have the Gophers feeling optimistic.

Chiarelli comes to the University after being rated the best junior player in Brazil. As a high school senior, Spilca led Sandia Preparatory School to the New Mexico Team State Championship.

Anderson said she believes they will learn a lot under fifth-year coach Tyler Thomson.

“I think that they are both good players who have potential to be even better,” she said. “Coming to a new environment with new coaches and a new team will help them a lot in developing their game.”

Anderson played No. 2 singles for a Gophers team that finished dead last in the Big Ten standings at 1-9. The women compiled a 6-15 overall record in match play.

But she believes inexperience played a large role in the team’s failures.

“There were too many matches we should have won, but our team was young and lacked experience, so I think this year we have grown a little bit,” Anderson said. “But we are still young enough to get better each year.”

Although they struggled, the Gophers always stayed positive.

If Minnesota improves significantly this season, credit a large portion of their success to the teams’ sanguine nature.

“I don’t care what people on the outside are thinking, as long as we’re working together as a team, hopefully our hard work will pay off and the results will speak for themselves,” Anderson said.

Men open this weekend

No team on campus is looking forward to a fresh start more than Minnesota’s men’s tennis team.

The team opens its fall season with the Alabama Fall Invitational in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Gophers are rebuilding after a forgettable spring season, in which the team committed six secondary NCAA rule violations – leading to suspensions of both coaches and players for the majority of the season – along with the disappointment of failing to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in 12 seasons.

“I think that it has been a long time since we finished a season ranked that low and didn’t qualify for the NCAAs, so I think that we are all fired up about the season and ready to make our coaches proud,” sophomore Chi Pham said.

The Gophers must also find a way to compensate for the loss of the team’s previous captain and No. 1 singles player, Avery Ticer. It remains to be seen how the team will function without the programs first-ever three-year captain.