Baseline plays host to ITA regional

Kent Erdahl

When Minnesota’s women’s tennis team hosts some of the top players in the nation at Baseline Tennis Center over the next six days, the Gophers said, they are anxious to showcase their facilities.

But that doesn’t mean they’re about to show-and-tell.

Minnesota will welcome nearly 30 Division I schools for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional Championships today through Tuesday at Baseline.

Coach Tyler Thomson said that hosting the tournament will be beneficial for the program, because it allows the team to show off Baseline’s many amenities and quality courts.

But he also said that the Gophers will benefit from the competition’s lack of knowledge about the facility’s courts.

“From a competitive standpoint, it’s a great advantage to play at home because of the surface,” Thomson said. “It’s a little bit different than what most teams are used to, and we play on it every day. It should really give our players some confidence.”

Thomson said confidence might be all his players need to advance into the late rounds.

Minnesota has five singles players and four doubles teams competing in a tournament which boasts a prestigious billing of two of the top 10 singles players and nine of the top 60 doubles teams in the college game.

With the high level of competition, only junior Nischela Reddy has an automatic pass into the main draw.

The remaining four singles players and all of the doubles teams must go through qualifying. That means if the Gophers play well, they will also play often.

Ida Malmberg, who will compete in qualifying rounds for both singles and doubles, said she feels confident coming in, but she admitted that she is unsure just how much she’ll have to play in order to advance through the main draw.

“I have no idea. I think I just need to take one at a time,” Malmberg said. “It goes until Tuesday, so there could be a lot of tennis going on.”

With her automatic place in the main draw, Reddy said she will try to exploit her tired opponents.

“If I’m playing someone that has come all the way through the qualifying, I’ll know that I’m fresher, and I’ll use it to my advantage.”

With the day off Thursday, Reddy said she will cheer on her teammates, who, she said, will need extra focus and stamina in order to advance.

But, Thomson said, he is encouraged by all of Minnesota’s players, and he said they are all playing well enough to have a legitimate shot at playing deep into the tournament.

If indeed the Gophers play through the weekend, Thomson said, they will have yet another advantage.

“Being at home and sleeping in our own beds is another advantage from a Gophers standpoint,” he said. “It’s always beneficial anytime you play in a familiar facility, stay in familiar surroundings and even eat familiar food.”