Men, women make early Big Ten exit

The women fell to Wisc. in the 1st round to lose their final six matches.

by Max Sanders

When the Minnesota womenâÄôs tennis team fell to Big Ten foes Illinois and Indiana last month, head coach Tyler Thomson questioned his teamâÄôs attitude. He said it would need an adjustment if they were going to make a deep postseason run. The Gophers didnâÄôt make that change and, as a result, his squad saw its season come to a close in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. âÄúI think that the theme of the season was inconsistency,âÄù Thomson said. âÄúWe werenâÄôt consistent with our attitude, we werenâÄôt consistent with our intensity and we lacked some consistency with our play in general.âÄù Minnesota closed out the regular season on a freefall, losing its final five regular season matches. That slide landed the Gophers in the No. 9 seed for the conference tournament, where they squared off against No. 8 Wisconsin. For Minnesota, the matchup against the Badgers was a chance to seek revenge after falling to Wisconsin 4-3 just two weeks prior, but the Badgers played with more intensity from start to finish of the opening round. âÄúWisconsin just had more fire than we did in the match,âÄù Thomson said. âÄúI expected the team to have a little bit more of a case for revenge since we lost a close match to Wisconsin. But Wisconsin came out really ready to play hard and we didnâÄôt really match that intensity.âÄù Minnesota lost two doubles matches by scores of 8-5 and 8-3 to start a point down heading into singles play . In singles play, the Gophers lost three matches, two of which ended in straight sets. In the first singles match, the BadgersâÄô Angela Chupa defeated the GophersâÄô Jackie Sperling 6-0, 6-0, and WisconsinâÄôs Alaina Trgovich easily bested MinnesotaâÄôs Alessandra Ferrazzi 6-3, 6-3 to seal the win. âÄúWe had some spots and some moments where we were competitive with that intensity, but [Wisconsin] was more consistent with their intensity and that ended up being the difference,âÄù Thomson said. The opening-round loss in the Big Ten tournament is the first in four seasons for the Gophers. In each of the previous three seasons, Minnesota advanced to at least the quarterfinal round. The end to what became a disappointing season is something that will have Thomson searching for answers all summer long. âÄúThe season began with a lot of promise and for a lot of different reasons we got off to a good start, but once we kind of got on a losing streak, we never really seemed to be able to get off of it,âÄù Thomson said. The Gophers have some hope moving forward next year, as they lose just two seniors. Ferrazzi, who was named an All-Big Ten honoree for her junior season, which included a 24-15 singles record, will lead the team into next season. Men also ousted After gaining a bye in the first round, the Gophers menâÄôs team was also pitted against the Badgers, this time in the Big Ten quarterfinals and once again Wisconsin prevailed, winning 4-0. After the Badgers won the first doubles match, MinnesotaâÄôs Phillip Arndt and Rok Bonin took the second doubles match to put the doubles point in the hands of the third match. Led by Mike Dierberger and Patrick Pohlmann , the Badgers eventually beat the Gophers 9-7 to take a one-point lead heading into singles. In singles competition, Wisconsin started on fire, winning the first set in all six matches. That strong start led to three victories âÄî all by straight sets âÄî to clinch the overall victory. With the loss, Minnesota now has to hope for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament. Minnesota finished the season ranked No. 32 in the country, with all 10 of its losses to teams ranked in the top 27 of the national rankings . Bids and pairings will be announced Tuesday.