Gophers prep for Big Tens

Minnesota will face Indiana in today’s quarterfinal tennis match.

Dan Miller

Besides the weather, Avery Ticer likes where the Minnesota men’s tennis team is standing going into its quarterfinal match against sixth-seeded Indiana this afternoon in East Lansing, Mich.

“It’s supposed to be a little windy (Friday),” Ticer said. “But I think we are in a good position here.”

The third-seeded Gophers’ junior captain was speaking in context of the team’s 5-2 loss to Ohio State last weekend in Minneapolis.

The 35th-ranked Gophers lost a heated battle to the Buckeyes, who have beaten Minnesota in the regular season the last three years. But Ticer is quick to point out that the Gophers have beaten the Buckeyes in two straight Big Ten Tournaments.

“I think a match like (Ohio State) can work out to our advantage,” he said. “It will make us come out with good energy and intensity in the tournament.”

Ticer said he hopes that energy will vault them over the Hoosiers today because the Gophers are itching to play the Buckeyes in the next round of the tournament.

Whether it has to do with the Gophers’ recent tournament winning streak, a rivalry has been growing between Minnesota and the Buckeyes. Two Ohio State players – who had finished their earlier matches – were noticeably vocal last Sunday. An official had to make the players move to a different part of the Baseline Tennis Center.

After the match, Minnesota players said a definite competitiveness has developed and that the team is excited at the prospect of playing Ohio State in the tournament.

But the Gophers had better be careful.

Two lower-seeded teams were upset in the first round Thursday. Ninth-seeded Michigan State upset No. 8 Michigan 4-2 and No. 10 Wisconsin beat seventh-seeded Penn State 4-3.

Minnesota coach David Geatz said Thursday that the team is not overlooking Indiana, and it will take a strong effort today to move into the next round.

The Gophers beat the then-56th-ranked Hoosiers 7-0 on April 17 to extend their winning streak to six dual matches. But the Hoosiers beat Iowa in a quick match Thursday 4-0 and Minnesota is taking nothing for granted.

“Indiana is definitely a good team,” Geatz said. “I don’t think we are in any position to overlook them.”

Ticer said the Gophers will have to stay focused.

“We need to be ready to play,” he said. “It will be important that we just come out strong and take care of business.”

The Gophers are looking to build on their performance last season that landed them in the championship match.

“Minnesota has a reputation of playing its best tennis in the Big Ten Tournament,” Geatz said. “We just hope to do that again this year.”

Ticer to make return

Ticer is expected to play today, but might be limited to only doubles play.

Ticer injured his left foot April 3 against Michigan and wore a boot cast. This will be his first match back from the injury.

He has been able to practice, but has had some problems finding the right amount of tape to wrap around the foot.

“I will be playing doubles and possibly some singles,” he said. “It depends on how it is feeling (Friday).”

Before the injury, Ticer was on an eight-match winning streak. But he had to go more than three weeks without playing any tennis after the injury. Senior Aleksey Zharinov has the second-best streak on the team with a five-match winning streak, which have all come against Big Ten opponents.