Levin transitions from Melbourne to Minnesota

The freshman from Australia is 3-2 in doubles play so far this spring season.

Gophers freshman Justyn Levin returns the ball to South Florida in the Baseline Tennis Center on Feb. 5.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Gophers freshman Justyn Levin returns the ball to South Florida in the Baseline Tennis Center on Feb. 5.

Jack White

Younger players have stepped up as the Gophers try to defend their Big Ten Championship from last season, and freshman Justyn Levin has helped lead the charge.
 
 
Levin went 5-4 in singles and 3-3 in doubles in the fall, and he is now 2-4 in singles and 3-2 in doubles in the spring.
 
 
“He has an all-court game,” head coach Geoff Young said. “He’s able to do a lot of different things. He has a great serve. He’s fast.”
 
 
The Melbourne, Australia, native didn’t have a tennis program at his high school but competed in International Tennis Federation tournaments.
 
 
“Playing ITF, you’re playing normally in another country, either by yourself or just with a parent or a coach, and you’ve got really no one else by your side,” Levin said. “Playing with a team behind you and coaches behind you is quite a different pressure.” 
 
 
Levin represented his country at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel and won bronze in junior boys doubles.
 
 
“We had the opening ceremony, which was similar to the Olympic opening ceremony, in a big stadium with thousands of people watching,” Levin said. “It was probably the best experience of my tennis career.”
 
 
Two years later he started his college career at Minnesota. In his first collegiate tournament, Levin won the consolation singles draw at the Arizona Wildcat Invite in September, and he and freshman Jesse Sprinkel took second in doubles.
 
 
“I think that was a really good experience for both of us,” Sprinkel said. “It was our first college match, so we didn’t really know what to expect heading into it.”
 
 
When the Gophers returned for their spring season, Levin started off with two consecutive singles victories against DePaul and South Dakota State.
 
 
Minnesota then played three top-25 teams in its next three meets, and Levin dropped his singles matches against Columbia, Oklahoma State and South Florida. He also lost his last singles match to Wisconsin.
 
 
The freshman did have a bright spot in doubles amid his struggles in singles, as he and freshman Josip Krstanovic were the only Gophers pair to win against Columbia.
 
 
Levin and Krstanovic lost their next two doubles matches after playing Columbia, but Levin is working to turn around his losing streaks.
 
 
“[He’s trying to] get better and figure out what the right decisions are to make on the court,” Young said. “[He’s] always working on that each week.”