Home finale an emotional one

It was an action-packed and emotionally charged final homestand for the Minnesota women’s tennis team this weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center.

The Gophers (13-9, 2-6 Big Ten) snapped a three-match losing streak, got their first glimpse of a NCAA National Championship contender – No. 1 Northwestern – and were able to say hello to an old friend, all in the same weekend.

On Saturday, Minnesota blanked conference rival Wisconsin 7-0 to end its recent Big Ten woes. In a doubleheader on Sunday, coach Tyler Thomson’s squad lost 7-0 to the top-ranked Wildcats early in the afternoon, then beat up on former assistant coach Luciano Battaglini’s Carleton College team 7-0 early into the night.

And to top a busy up-and-down weekend off, Minnesota was playing with the motivation of trying to send its two seniors – Lindsay Risebrough and Danielle Mousseau – out of their final home weekend on a positive note.

By beating the border-battle rival Badgers on Saturday, Minnesota accomplished that goal, among others.

After taking two out of three doubles matches to secure the doubles point against Wisconsin, Minnesota rattled off six straight singles wins, including three-set victories by freshman Alessandra Ferrazzi at No. 1 singles ( 4-6, 6-2, 6-0) and sophomore Tijana Koprivica at No. 4 singles (4-6, 6-2, 6-0).

“We finally put everything together,” Koprivica said. “They are our rivals so it was a good feeling.”

Thomson, who came away impressed with how his team competed Saturday, said he can’t remember the last time one of his teams swept another conference foe.

“I can’t recall, I imagine we might have the year we won the Big Ten,” he said.

“Regardless of the score I am most satisfied that from start to finish – from court to court and player to player – we played with passionate attitude and with fight.”

On Sunday, Minnesota – despite being competitive in many matches – was blanked by the top-ranked Wildcats, but got a bit of payback later in the day by sweeping Carleton in its final regular season dual at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Said Risebrough: “The score didn’t say it all (against Northwestern). We had a lot of chances to win the doubles point, but everyone played really well. Sometimes it’s hard to play teams like that because you may place them on a pedestal.”

Thomson said playing Carleton, which is about an hour outside of Minneapolis, and Battaglini – who spent the past four seasons as his right-hand man with the Gophers – is good for both schools and could be a yearly occurrence.

Because he talks to him on a regular basis, Thomson said seeing Battalgini on the other side of the net wasn’t too odd.

“He’s wearing gold,” Thomson said when asked what it was like to see his apprentice without a Gophers shirt on for the first time in years.

Men split pair

The Minnesota men’s tennis team split its final pair of regular season road duals this weekend.

The Gophers stretched their Big Ten winning streak to three matches with a 6-1 win over Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Saturday, then saw their hot conference streak end with a 7-0 loss to No. 32-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday in Madison.

Minnesota (5-15 overall, 3-5 Big Ten), plays its final regular season matches next weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center.