Gophers losing streak reaches 10 against a pair of Michigan foes

by Noah Seligman

Minnesota women’s tennis player Nischela Reddy screamed in frustration Sunday afternoon at the Baseline Tennis Center as her backhand sailed well long of the baseline in her 6-3, 6-4 loss to Michigan’s No. 72 Elizabeth Exon.

It was that kind of weekend, and has been that kind of a season for the Gophers.

On the weekend, Minnesota (2-14, 0-5) lost to Michigan State 7-0 Saturday and fell to 20th-ranked Michigan 5-2 Sunday.

The Gophers said they have been competitive in almost every match, but have consistently found themselves on the short end of the scorecard.

“A lot of our matches are very close,” senior Angela Buergis said. “A lot of times, the results don’t reflect how close the match was.”

Sunday started well for Minnesota as the Gophers took the early lead in doubles play.

Reddy and Buergis knocked off the No. 30 doubles team of Michelle DaCosta and Kara Delicata 8-6.

The Gophers pair of freshmen Lindsay Risebrough and Ida Malmberg topped the Wolverine’s No. 32 tandem of Debra Streifler and Kim Plaushines 9-8(4).

“(Sunday’s) doubles play was already much better,” Buergis said. “Everybody is progressing; we’re getting there.”

But singles play proved to be much tougher for Minnesota. The fourth, fifth and sixth singles players for the Gophers combined to win only three service games.

Risebrough played No. 3 singles for the Gophers and lost in three sets: 3-6, 5-7, 1-6.

Buergis posted the only singles win for Minnesota, outlasting DaCosta 6-2, 5-7, (13-11). The two played a super tiebreaker in place of a third set. After Reddy lost, Michigan had won the match but Buergis and DaCosta had not finished.

The two losses over the weekend pushed Minnesota’s losing streak to 10 matches, including 13 of its last 15 matches overall.

Minnesota has six underclassmen on its nine-player roster, and each weekend is about gaining experience as much as winning and losing.

“This season has been unique because we have a young team,” assistant coach Luciano Battaglini said. “Week by week, they are really improving.”

Battaglini said the coaching staff is working to improve the young players’ consistency and the team’s overall physical strength.

“The mental factor is big,” he said. “In a close match, the game becomes way more mental than physical.”

The Gophers look to get in the win column in the Big Ten when they play Saturday at Northwestern and visit Wisconsin on Sunday.

Men’s tennis wins three

Minnesota’s men’s tennis team picked up three wins over the weekend in Michigan. The Gophers knocked off Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing and Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor by identical 4-3 scores. On Friday, they beat Western Michigan 7-0 in Ann Arbor as well.

Minnesota (10-7, 5-1) used a 4-2 advantage in singles play to beat the Spartans, and the Gophers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to dispose of the Wolverines.

No. 53 Chris Wettengel beat the Wolverines’ No. 49 Michael Rubin at No. 1 singles Saturday and the Spartans’ Cameron Marshall at No. 2 singles Sunday.

The Gophers play host to Wisconsin on Sunday at the Baseline Tennis Center.