Gophers split in North Carolina

The women’s team went undefeated in three matches over the weekend.

Minnesotas Leandro Toledo returns a volley from his Marquette opponent at the Baseline Tennis Center on Jan. 31, 2014.

Daily File Photo,Patricia Grover

Minnesota’s Leandro Toledo returns a volley from his Marquette opponent at the Baseline Tennis Center on Jan. 31, 2014.

by Danny Chen

The Gophers knew heading to Chapel Hill, N.C., that their matches wouldn’t be easy.

And they weren’t.

No. 19 North Carolina dropped the Gophers 4-1, but they bounced back to beat Citadel 7-0.

Against North Carolina, head coach Geoff Young said the team had a slow start in the doubles competition.

“In a short set like that, it’s pretty tough when you put yourself in the hole right away,” Young said. “It’s tough to come back, especially against a good team. [But] I thought that we did a good job of coming out in singles and competed well in that.”

The Gophers had one victory in the singles competition when No. 1 singles Brayden Schnur retired the match against senior Leandro Toledo.

Toledo was up 6-2, 1-1 at that point.

No. 3 singles Matic Spec had a close fought match, losing 6-4, 6-4 to the No. 81 player in the country.

Spec said overall, he played well against his opponent.

“[My opponent] had better chances than me. Basically there were two breaks, one in each set. I just played worse in those two games, and that kind of decided the match,” Spec said.

Senior Jack Hamburg, the team’s No. 2 singles player for most of the season, sat because of an injury.

“I was impressed with my teammates, and they all did a good job against a tough team,” Hamburg said. “We were there in all of our matches, but it just came down to a couple points here and there.”

After the loss, Minnesota had a short break before the team competed against Citadel.

The Gophers came out with a vengeance against their second opponent and swept the competition.

Spec moved up to No. 2 singles against Citadel, and he defeated his opponent 6-2, 6-1.

“Although our [second] opponent was not as good, we did our job and played well from the first ball,” Spec said. “We executed everything well.”

Young said the team showed a lot of energy in the second meet.

“It’s a different kind of team than North Carolina — the level[s] of players were different,” Young said. “But even so, we still played at a high level.”

Women dominate at home

The Gophers competed against Iowa State, Marquette and Carleton, defeating all three opponents with ease.

Against Iowa State, the team won 4-1, only dropping a match at the No. 3 singles position.

In their second match against Marquette, the Gophers swept their competition 7-0.

In the final matchup against Division III Carleton, Minnesota again had another 7-0 performance.

Head coach Chuck Merzbacher said the best victory was the match against Marquette.

“We knew that they were playing well. [But] I felt that we beat a good team bad, and I thought it was a complete effort from the team, probably our best one of the year,” Merzbacher said.

Freshman Caroline Ryba’s match against Iowa State went unfinished, but she had an impressive victory against Marquette, defeating her opponent 6-1, 6-0.

“Marquette was a good match for me,” Ryba said. “I think the girl that I played was the type of girl that I just like to play and do well against. I just stayed focused and I stuck to my game.”