Brichacova takes 2nd in California after withdrawal

Minnesota battled in a weekend tournament at the Cal Nike Invite filled with first-tier teams.

Dane Mizutani

It’s not a breeding ground for powerhouse women’s tennis, but Minnesota showed this weekend it can compete with high-powered tennis teams from the West Coast.

Tereza Brichacova cruised into the finals in her singles matches over the weekend at the Cal-Berkeley Invitational. But on Sunday — when she trailed 5-0 in the first set of the finals — she was forced to withdraw in order to make her flight back to the Twin Cities.

“I was a little bit disappointed, but I knew going in there was a chance it might happen,” she said. “I wish I could have finished the match.”

Brichacova said she tried to start aggressive in each match to get her opponent out of rhythm. It worked as she advanced to the finals with relative ease.

Minnesota head coach Chuck Merzbacher said he was upset she couldn’t finish her finals match and said at this point in the season it’s about getting matches in.

Brichacova excelled in doubles as well. The sophomore from the Czech Republic and her doubles partner Doron Muravnik won their match against a duo from San Francisco on Saturday to advance to the semifinals, but they fell to the top seeds from California-Berkeley.

While Brichacova competed with her West Coast competition, the doubles squad of Natallia Pintusava and Yuliana Umanets was eliminated from the consolation bracket with a loss Saturday and didn’t compete Sunday.

Both athletes also lost in their respective singles matches Saturday to finish their weekend.

Still, Merzbacher said he was impressed with how his team competed.

“We definitely earned a lot of respect this weekend,” he said. “These kids aren’t afraid of anybody. They’re going to compete against everybody.”

Men show they have room to grow

It’s been four months, but the men’s tennis team is back at it — and after the Penn Invitational over the weekend, it’s clear there’s room to grow.

Minnesota head coach Geoff Young said he thought his team could’ve performed better over the weekend but said the meet served its purpose.

“The results weren’t as good as we would have liked, but the reason why we came was to get some matches in and see what we need to work on,” Young said.

The pairing of Juan Pablo Ramirez and Tucker Saxon provided a bright spot for the team. Ramirez and Saxon won the second-tier doubles tournament in their first time competing together.

“I think we understood each other well on the court,” Ramirez said. “We were communicating well … and played off the other’s strengths.”

Outside of Ramirez and Saxon, the rest of the squad struggled throughout the meet.

Brendan Ruddock and Eric Frueh both lost in the first round of their respective matches and battled in the consolation bracket the rest of the weekend.

Young said moving forward, he wants his team to return to basics. He said his players were caught out of position at times over the weekend.

“There were a lot of good things that we did … but we need to be more consistent,” he said.