Minnesota’s women’s dominate weekend slate

The Gophers men’s team split a pair of matches.

Sophomore Jessika Mozia returns the ball against North Dakota at Baseline on Sunday.

Lisa Persson

Sophomore Jessika Mozia returns the ball against North Dakota at Baseline on Sunday.

by Dane Mizutani

Minnesota really couldn’t have hoped for a better start to its season.

The Gophers won their fourth straight match to open the year when they dismantled North Dakota 7-0 and followed it up with an equally controlling 7-0 win Sunday.

Minnesota hasn’t had an outlook this good in more than a decade — this is the first time since 1997 that it’s started a season 4-0.

And in the eyes of head coach Chuck Merzbacher, this is only the beginning.

“We’re more ready than we’ve ever been,” he said. “I feel like everyone across the board is doing a great job.”

That might be an understatement.

The Gophers have dropped only one player match this season en route to their 4-0 start.

Still, players aren’t letting this early success get to their heads.

“We’re pretty excited with how our season has started,” junior Tereza Brichacova said. “We’re slowly getting ready for Big Ten play, and we just want to get as many matches as we can right now.”

Minnesota will escape the cold next weekend on a road trip to the West Coast.

Merzbacher is confident his team will be ready as it continues to build toward the meat of the season.

“We’re on a mission to do some things, and this is a start,” he said. “We just have to keep moving in the right direction.”

Gophers split weekend

Minnesota’s men’s tennis team lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to Notre Dame after more than four hours of play at the ITA National Team Indoor Regionals on Friday night.

The Gophers, however, came back with a 4-0 sweep of BYU a day later to tally its first win of the season.

“It always feels good to win,” head coach Geoff Young said. “I was proud of the way our team was able to bounce back.”

Minnesota jumped out to an early 3-0 lead Friday against the Fighting Irish but couldn’t hold on. Notre Dame fought back to steal the match 4-3 after Wyatt McCoy bested junior Eric Frueh at No. 5 singles.

That loss didn’t keep the team down, though.

The Gophers befuddled BYU from start to finish Saturday and swept the Cougars 4-0.

Young said there’s a lot of room for growth on his team, but he said junior No. 1 singles player Leandro Toledo stood out this weekend.

Toledo, who played almost exclusively at No. 2 singles last season, now has the top position all to himself.

And that’s just fine with his head coach.

“He always gives us a good chance to win at No. 1 [singles],” Young said. “He welcomes the role of being at the top of the lineup, and it’s good. We need him.”

Minnesota will host its first home matches of the season next weekend. Young said the team is ready to compete in the friendly confines of Baseline Tennis Center.

Young added that the three-game road stint to open the year served its purpose.

“Now that we’ve played three good teams, we have a good idea of where we’re at,” Young said. “There were a lot of good things that came from these last three matches, and now we need to build on that.”