Gophers open in Nebraska

Five of coach David Geatz’s seven players will play their first matches as Gophers.

Mike Mullen

The average year-round temperature in Santa Barbara, Calif., is 64 degrees, the city gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year and its record-low temperature is 20 degrees.

“It’s nice all the time there,” men’s tennis player Nick Edlefsen said.

And yet, Edlefsen, a native of Eden Prairie, Minn., left all that after one year to come home and play tennis for Minnesota. His reasons were simple and had nothing to do with climate.

“(Minnesota) is a better fit for me,” Edlefsen said. “I knew what I wanted: a competitive team, a coach who cared. Guys who care about tennis, maybe even more than school – or partying.”

Edlefsen is one of three players on the team who, as of Wednesday’s practice, had not lost an intrateam challenge match.

The other two players as yet undefeated are Pete Torgrimson of Duluth, Minn., and D.J. Geatz.

At this weekend’s Nebraska Invitational – a flighted round-robin tournament – coach David Geatz plans to rotate those three at the top.

For D.J. Geatz, this will be an opportunity to face his old team. He played at Nebraska as a freshman last year.

“I still have some good friends there,” D.J. Geatz said. “This will be a good chance for me to show my old coach how I’m playing – and that my leg is fully recovered.”

Coach David Geatz isn’t worried about his son facing his old team.

“He’s a gamer,” David Geatz said. “He’ll be ready – he’s always ready.”

Both Edlefsen and D.J. Geatz welcome the chance to play in the top flight, with Edlefson saying, “I think I deserve it – at least a chance.”

D.J. Geatz, meanwhile, said he wouldn’t mind skipping around in the lineup.

“(Playing No. 1) will be a good chance for me,” he said. “But hopefully I play some at 2 or 3 and get a couple easier matches – those are always good.”

For David Geatz, this will be a good chance to get to know his team. Five of the seven players making the trip to Nebraska have not played for Minnesota before.

In fact he sometimes refers to freshman Adrien Debreyne as “our French guy.”

“I don’t know what to expect,” David Geatz said. “This is not really a chance for me to coach. I just want to watch them play and learn about their games.”

Women head to Las Vegas

After a strong showing at the Gopher Invitational tournament – three champions and two runners-up in five brackets – Minnesota’s women’s tennis team has a bit of swagger to it.

And coach Tyler Thomson said he wants it to stay around.

“I spoke about that before practice (Wednesday),” Thomson said. “At our tournament, we kind of walked around a certain way and felt like the top dogs. And it’s important for us to have that attitude and have that swagger.”

The Gophers now take that swagger to the Southwest, competing in this weekend’s UNLV Invitational. Among those teams slated for the tournament are Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Louisiana State.

One of Thomson’s main goals has been preparing his freshmen for the level of competition of this tournament. His method has the team ignoring its opponents.

“We know there’s a chance our freshmen could be intimidated,” Thomson said. “They might play girls they’ve seen in juniors, or maybe just seeing ‘LSU’ on someone’s shirt. So we’ve been telling them, ‘No names, no faces.’ “

Playing in the top flight for Minnesota will be Nischela Reddy. Thomson said Reddy, who last year beat a player ranked in the top 50 in Oregon’s Dominika Dieskova, shouldn’t be nervous about facing tougher opponents.

“I feel very comfortable having her play some of these girls,” Thomson said. “I relish these opportunities for her. If (Reddy) can win some of these matches, she’s going to get noticed on the national scene.”