Gophers pleased with final fall showing at Big Ten championships

There was a runner up finish, a runner up consolation finish, and four Gophers who made it to the final 16 of the Big Ten singles tournament last weekend. Sophomore Sebastian Gallego was the star, finishing in second place overall to an Iowa rival he knows all too well. Surprising in some ways, in other ways expected. Two critical matches over the weekend involved Minnesota teammates, in effect lowering the chance of those advancing for the Gophers. But with these matches, someone was going to go far, maybe far enough to get to the televised big stage final match. âÄúI was just happy just thinking about the fact that at least one Gopher would make it to the next round,âÄù freshman Phillip Arndt said. Arndt had battled in a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 loss to junior teammate Dino Bilankov in the third round of the tournament. âÄúWeâÄôre both the same after the match. We both talked and we both joked around and were like, âÄòthat was a great match man, you played unbelievable,âÄôâÄù Arndt said. Bilankov went on to advance to the semifinal match , where he faced fellow teammate and doubles partner, Gallego. The doubles team has been the most successful for this Minnesota team who always puts doubles at the top of priorities. They posted a 4-1 record in the fall. Again, this semifinal match consisting of two players from the same school wasnâÄôt a shock for most. âÄúTheyâÄôre an unbelievable doubles team. They can go really far this year in doubles. TheyâÄôre both so solid off the ground. They both have great games. I was not surprised at all they got as far as they did because I knew they would get that far,âÄù Arndt said. The key for both over the weekend: âÄúThe energy they have on the court. Especially Dino. He showed a lot of energy in his quarterfinal match,âÄù freshman Michael Sicora said. Gallego proved to be too much, however, outlasting Bilankov 6-1, 6-4. GallegoâÄôs final round match versus Christian Bierich was not his first encounter with the eventual Big Ten Singles champion. It was only last year that Gallego was overmatched by Bierich. In the final, Bierich was again too much for the Medellin, Columbia native, losing 6-3, 6-4. Up next for the Gophers is Marquette, who will come to Baseline January 30th. âÄúThe first match of the year is always a real exciting time. Everyone starts on a fresh slate,âÄù Coach Geoff Young said.