The Minnesota men’s tennis team might have seen its season come to an end after a shocking first-round exit from the Big Ten Championships on Thursday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind.
The sixth-seeded Gophers fell 4-1 to 11th-seeded Purdue, just five days after beating the Boilermakers 4-3 on the same courts.
Losing in the first round of the conference tournament for the second straight year was especially disappointing to senior captain Mikey Kantar, who might have played his last match with the maroon and gold.
“For the past two years, we’ve been a team that can beat anyone or lose to anyone,” he said. “Unfortunately, today we proved we can lose to anyone.”
Minnesota’s roller coaster season, which started with the Gophers climbing up the rankings all the way to No. 14 in the country, could end without an NCAA tournament birth.
Had the team won, a bid would have been assured, according to Kantar. Now, he said, the team will have to sit and wait for the committee’s decision Tuesday.
“This was not how we wanted to go out,” Kantar said. “What’s unfortunate is that now we don’t control our own destiny. Now, it’s a crapshoot.”
The Minnesota women’s tennis team fared much better in its first round matchup, advancing to the second round of the Big Ten tournament for the first time since 2003 by beating Illinois 4-0.
The seventh-seeded Gophers will meet second-seeded Indiana at 2 p.m. today at the Baseline Tennis Center.
Minnesota lost a 4-3 dual to the Hoosiers on March 25, but the team is excited for the rematch, according to coach Tyler Thomson.
“I know our team is geared up for (today), we believe we can win and we’re eager for the opportunity.”
Junior Lindsay Risebrough, who went 2-0 against the Illini, said the team is ready for the challenge at hand.
“I think it can go our way (Friday). “I think we can do it. I think everyone is really psyched to play.”
Thomson hasn’t talked much about a possible NCAA tournament bid for his team, but acknowledged an upset victory today is necessary before any rumblings surface of a postseason trip.
“We’ve got to win today to have any hope of getting in. If we can get through to the finals I think we’d for sure be in. But (today) is a must for sure.”