U looks to prove itself at NCAAs

by Aaron Kirscht

The Gophers women’s tennis team will head to South Bend, Ind., the home of Notre Dame and the fabled Golden Dome, this weekend for the NCAA Midwest Regional tournament.
And the Gophers (11-6) are looking to bring home a little gold of their own, as in a first-ever regional championship.
“This is the big one now,” sophomore Alice Rangsithienchai said, “what we’ve been working toward. We’re ready to go.”
First up is Indiana (18-8), which narrowly defeated Minnesota on March 9 on the Gophers’ home court. Minnesota’s loss of the doubles point was crucial in the 4-3 decision.
But the Gophers have recovered, winning the doubles point in three of their last four matches.
“I hope that Indiana is going to come out with the same game they had in the first match, and that we can go out with a little more,” Gophers coach Martin Novak said. “But if both teams are playing great, watch out. It’s a coin toss.”
Repeat champs or chumps?
On their last day of practice before heading to the NCAA Region IV tournament, the men’s tennis team hit the courts at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
By 1:40, most of the team was huddled together under a nearby overhang, trying to avoid being soaked by a where-the-heck-did-that-come-from downpour. So much for practice.
The Gophers are hoping their trip to Champaign, Ill., will last a bit longer.
“We haven’t been able to do a whole lot (all week),” Coach David Geatz said. “This weather sucks. I suppose we should have gone indoors. That’s where the smart people are.”
Extended postseason play has become old hat for Minnesota, so an unexpected day off shouldn’t hurt. Even last season, when the Gophers were the last team to make the cut, they won the regional and advanced to the final 16. But this season has been one of the worst (10-13) in Geatz’s tenure.
If a repeat performance is in the Gophers’ plans, they’ll have to get by Purdue, a team they beat last month in the Big Ten tournament. But Geatz stopped short of guaranteeing victory, as he did last time.
“We’re better than that team; we should beat that team,” he said. “But they’ll be looking for revenge. We’ll have to play good tennis to get by them again.”
Tennessee double-shot
New Gophers women’s basketball coach Cheryl Littlejohn added a fellow Tennessee alumna to her staff on Thursday.
Jody Adams, who spent last season as an assistant at Wake Forest, is the second coach to be hired. Tori Harrison, the head coach at Coppin State since 1992, joined Minnesota in mid-April.
Adams played for the Lady Vols from 1990-93, winning three SEC titles and a national championship in 1991. Before moving to Wake Forest, where she oversaw scouting and recruiting, Adams served on the staff at Auburn and as a student assistant at Tennessee.
Cross country signings
The women’s cross country team announced the signings of 10 runners on Thursday.
The recruiting class will join the Gophers in the fall: Addy Adamson, Wayzata, Minn.; Casey Cherne, Duluth, Minn.; Rachel Domenichetti, St. Paul; Rachel Earney, Cochrane, Wisc.; Elaine Eggleston, Roseville, Minn.; Jessica Fiedler, Pierz, Minn.; Marja Loukkola, Oulu, Finland; Corinne Nimtz, Eden Prairie, Minn.; Tanya Prince, Bemidji, Minn.; Megan Schultz, Oconomowoc, Wisc.