Iowa too deep for Gophers

The women’s tennis team is without a No. 5 or 6 singles or No. 3 doubles win this year.

Aaron Blake

Last April, Minnesota’s women’s tennis team won a Big Ten title with its depth. On Saturday, they got a reality check on just how much things have changed in their first conference match.

The Gophers (2-5, 0-1 Big Ten) lost to Iowa 4-3 on Saturday, after beating Montana 5-2 the day before. Both matches were at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Through seven matches this season, Minnesota still has yet to win a No. 5 or 6 singles or No. 3 doubles match.

But Minnesota had a chance versus the Hawkeyes (6-2, 1-0). The Gophers needed to win Nos. 1-4 singles after Iowa took a 3-0 lead with the doubles point and Nos. 5 and 6 singles victories.

“I think it’s pretty evident that although our depth isn’t what it was last year, we have the ability to win every match that we play,” coach Tyler Thomson said.

The Hawkeyes swept the doubles point as Minnesota’s 29th-ranked duo of Angela Buergis and Nischela Reddy fell 8-5 to Iowa’s Hillary Mintz and Meg Racette.

In singles competition, Gophers Emily Bezek and Megan Steiger fell quickly in straight sets at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. Bezek fell 6-1, 6-1, to Deni Alexandrova while Steiger lost 6-0, 6-0, to Hilary Tyler.

After both Buergis and Reddy scored singles wins at Nos. 1 and 2, Minnesota’s Ida Malmberg fell 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, to Anastasia Zhukova at No. 3 singles, giving Iowa the team victory.

The Gophers’ Lindsay Risebrough closed out the match with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-1, win at No. 4 singles, making the final score 4-3.

“(The coaches) were happy with how we played and how we competed,” Risebrough said. “They’re looking at it as a good thing and nothing negative.”

Minnesota won its second match of the season Friday against Montana, Thomson’s alma mater.

The Gophers won Nos. 1 and 2 doubles and Nos. 1-4 singles for their five points. Minnesota’s Jenna Tellefsen and Shelby Rohrer lost at Nos. 5 and 6 singles, respectively.

Buergis and Reddy beat Michaela Zima and Annabelle Janairo at No. 1 doubles, and both scored straight-set singles victories as well.

Saturday’s match was a better indicator of where the Gophers are as a team, and the loss put things in perspective.

“It’s hard,” Reddy said. “Every match is going to be hard for us.

“We’re hoping to win, but, at the end of the day, all you can do is give your best. That’s what I think we did (Saturday).”