Gophers blow out Wildcats; lose to Illinois to close out regular season

Senior Matic Spec won on Sunday, extending his match winning streak to nine.

Senior Matic Spec returns the ball during a game against Ohio State at Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, March 30.

Max Ostenso

Senior Matic Spec returns the ball during a game against Ohio State at Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, March 30.

Max Biegert

Senior Matic Spec won in straight sets on Sunday to extend his consecutive match winning streak to nine.

However, Spec’s victory was the only point for the Gophers on the day.  

No. 35 Minnesota (14-7, 7-3) lost to No. 8 Illinois (19-6, 10-1) 6-1 outdoors in Champaign, Illinois.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of giving ourselves a lot of chances in doubles; we couldn’t convert on them,” head coach Geoff Young said. “They are a good team and they were better than us today.”

Felix Corwin and Josip Krstanovic dropped their match in the No. 1 doubles spot 4-6. Later, the duo of Eli Ogilvy and Spec lost their match in the No. 2 spot, allowing Illinois to get out to a 1-0 lead in the dual. 

Illinois kept that hot play going, capturing the first three singles victories and clinching the dual in quick fashion. Minnesota freshman Vlad Lobek fell to sophomore Zeke Clark in the No. 5 singles spot 6-2, 6-0. In the No. 4 spot, Krstanovic lost in straight sets — 5-7, 0-6. 

Illinois’ Caleb Chakravarthi beat Jackson Allen 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 6 spot to clinch the victory.

“It is hard to claw back when you are down against a really good team like this at their home court,” Young said. “It was a good match to learn from.”

Minnesota beats Northwestern 

Minnesota cruised to a 7-0 sweep against Northwestern (9-15, 4-6) Friday. 

The Gophers clinched the doubles point with victories from the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Then, Minnesota clinched the dual matches with six singles victories and only one match needing to go into a third set. 

“Northwestern has a lot of good players, but we came out with good energy and won the match,” Young said. 

For the sixth weekend in a row, Spec and Ogilvy were paired up in the No. 2 doubles spot. They clinched the doubles point for the Gophers with a 6-4 victory. Stefan Milicevic and Marino Alpeza took care of their match first, claiming a 6-2 victory. 

Krstanovic extended the Gophers lead in the dual to 2-0 after claiming a 6-1, 6-2 victory in the No. 4 spot. Spec extended his singles match streak to eight after a 6-0, 6-3 straight set victory. Milicevic earned the clinching fourth point for the Gophers after grinding through his first set, winning 7-5, and then cruising to a 6-0 second set win to claim victory.

The Gophers will be in Iowa City starting Thursday for the Big Ten championships. 

“I think we are a tough team to beat right now and I look forward to watching us compete,” Young said Sunday.