Inconsistency plagues men’s tennis again

Ken Zimmer

The Gophers men’s tennis team was rewarded with a pre-Easter treat Saturday before finding a rotten egg of reality in its basket on Sunday.
The team upset Northwestern on Saturday 4-3, but fell in usual fashion to Wisconsin the following day by the same score.
Coach David Geatz saw the match with Northwestern, ranked No. 24 nationally, as a chance for the Gophers to prove they are a team that hasn’t peaked yet.
“It’s too early to judge this team,” he said before the match. “We’re going to save some for the end (of the season). We just have to play a match from top to bottom.”
Geatz was concerned about which Gophers team would show up; the promising one that swept Indiana State and Penn State 7-0, or the one that entered Saturday with a 1-5 record in 4-3 matches.
The coach prepared the team for the match with the Wildcats with outdoor practices despite cold temperatures and high wind gusts.
“You can’t really play in this junk,” he said. “But Northwestern’s coach said we’re going to play outside no matter how windy and cold it is, as long as it doesn’t rain.”
On Saturday, the team’s preparations paid off as it won 4-3 and ended recent troubles against the Wildcats.
Prior to Saturday, Minnesota had lost three of its last four matches to Northwestern. Last season the Wildcats defeated the Gophers twice, including the final match in the NCAA regional tournament.
Junior Tom Chicoine continued his late-season surge, upsetting Marc Silva at No. 1 singles. Silva was 21-3 and the No. 23 ranked singles player in the country entering the weekend. The win was Chicoine’s third in four matches.
On Sunday, the Gophers couldn’t maintain the type of momentum Geatz was looking for, as Minnesota lost to the Badgers for the first time since 1990.
Wisconsin broke another streak as junior Martin Kristoffersen lost his first dual match of the season. Adam Schumacher defeated Kristoffersen in three sets at No. 6 singles, tarnishing his perfect 9-0 record.
The lone unbeaten Gopher is Jon Svensson, whose victory over Stefan Reist at No. 4 singles boosted his dual match record to 16-0.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Svensson can’t play two singles positions in one match.
Minnesota continues to lose close matches against teams it normally dominates. The last three losses to Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin were all by 4-3 scores. Prior to this season, the Gophers were 32-3 against those teams under Geatz.
The Gophers, now 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, host Illinois and Purdue this weekend at the 98th Street Racquet Club in Bloomington. Illinois remains the powerhouse of the Big Ten, holding a No. 6 ranking nationally.
The team will be happy to play on its home court, where it has posted a 4-1 record, losing only to Notre Dame on Jan. 17.