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Doubles spell trouble for Gophers’ chances

Minnesota’s second and third doubles teams are just 2-8 so far this season.

In most cases, two is better than one.

But that maxim hasn’t been the case for Minnesota’s men’s tennis team so far.

In fact, even though the doubles point is just one out of seven possible in a college tennis match, that point has been single-handedly responsible for two narrow Minnesota losses this season.

“A lot of times, we only think in terms of points, and doubles doesn’t have as high a value,” said John Wheaton, interim assistant coach and the brother of interim head coach David Wheaton. “But they set the tone for the match, and if the kids play well in doubles, it carries over to the rest of the match.”

Although the No. 1 doubles team of senior Avery Ticer and freshman Adrien Debreyne has generally been strong, notching a 5-2 record in dual play so far, winning that second match out of three to claim the doubles point has been elusive.

The Nos. 2 and 3 doubles teams, which have typically included Nic Edlefsen and Sion Wilkins, respectively, have both went just 2-8 in dual play.

“I think our top six singles players are as strong as any team in the conference,” Wilkins said. “But our doubles need to get better, so we’ve been working on it a lot.”

But perhaps as important as simply working on its game, the Minnesota squad (3-7) will be bolstered by the return of two suspended players.

Sophomores D.J. Geatz and Andres Osorio, who were suspended in November for their involvement in a summer internship program at the North Oaks Tennis Club in North Oaks, Minn., returned for the Gophers in their last match against Iowa. They paired together to give Minnesota a No. 2 doubles win, and the Gophers went on to win all nine matches and sweep the meet.

And it’s their collective experience that Ticer said is crucial to doubles play and will be a boon to the team in its upcoming matches.

“Doubles is more of an experience game,” Ticer said. “We’ve got guys who are definitely capable of playing well in doubles – it’s just about getting the experience of actually doing it.”

The Gophers will get to test their doubles play this Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, when they take on No. 13 Ohio State (7-5).

And, as John Wheaton said, winning that elusive doubles point will be vital if Minnesota hopes to pull an upset of the Buckeyes.

“This game is so psychological, especially at this level,” John Wheaton said. “It’s only one point, but all those guys have to go out and play singles matches later.

And if they’re coming off a loss, that can really affect them.”

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