Gophers pick up first conference win

Minnesota took a close one from Penn State before falling to Michigan Sunday.

It wasn’t a weekend in which the Minnesota women’s tennis team did what it wanted to do, but it was a weekend in which the Gophers did what they needed to do.

up next

Michigan State
what: Men’s tennis
when: 12 p.m., Friday
where: Baseline Tennis Center

Coach Tyler Thomson’s squad picked up a much-needed first win of the Big Ten season on Saturday with a nail-biting 4-3 victory against Penn State, but Minnesota is still searching for a signature conference win after bowing to a talented Michigan team, ranked No. 29 in the country, 7-0 on Sunday.

A too-close-for-comfort win, followed by a shutout loss isn’t an ideal weekend, but the Gophers will take it.

up next

Michigan State
what: Women’s tennis
when: 11 a.m., Saturday
where: East Lansing, Mich.

“Any win in the Big Ten is a good win,” Thomson said. “It would have been a lot more difficult to rally the troops (for the rest of the season) had we come out of this weekend winless in the Big Ten.”

Minnesota entered the weekend attempting to sweep its two duals at the Baseline Tennis Center in order to get back into NCAA tournament discussion.

As it turned out, the Gophers were fortunate to pick up one victory on their home courts.

On Saturday, No. 57-ranked Minnesota needed every point it could get to win a match they desperately couldn’t afford to lose against the Nittany Lions.

By losing the doubles point and two of the first three singles matches, Minnesota was down 3-1 midway through the dual. But the Gophers, who probably let things get a little too interesting for Thomson’s liking, won consecutive matches at No. 2, No. 5 and No. 1 singles to secure their first conference victory of the spring season.

After senior Lindsay Risebrough and sophomore Jackie Sperling picked up wins to even the dual at 3-3, freshman Alessandra Ferrazzi completed the comeback effort with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Penn State’s Katelyn BeVard.

“We knew that last year we had a close match with them and we didn’t want to take them lightly and I don’t think we did,” sophomore Jackie Sperling said. “They are a solid team, so it was a good win for us.”

Oddly enough, Thomson appeared more pleased with how his team played in its clean-sweep loss to the Wolverines on Sunday, than it did against Penn State on Saturday.

He asked his team to display more energy following Saturday’s dual, and he got his wish – although it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.

“We just got beat (Sunday). We got beat by a better team. But we gave our best,” he said. “I didn’t feel the same way (Saturday).”

With plenty of conference matches left for April, Thomson hopes the Gophers, now 11-6 and 1-3 in the Big Ten, can feed off their first conference win.

“That was a win we needed to have, and now we have half of our Big Ten season left and we have a lot of matches that are winnable,” he said.

Sophomore Tijana Koprivica said Minnesota will take a win when it can get it, but the team still has room for improvement.

“It’s satisfying, Koprvica said of the team winning its first conference match. “But we know if we want to beat some better teams we have to bring (the intensity) up a bit.”

Men lose pair on the road

The Minnesota men’s tennis team continues to struggle to find the win column.

The Gophers are now 2-15 and 0-4 in the Big Ten after losing a pair of conference duals on the road this weekend.

On Friday, coach Geoff Young’s squad lost to 51st ranked Penn State 6-1 in State College, Pa., Sunday, Minnesota fell to No. 14-ranked Michigan 5-2 in Ann Arbor.