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Gophers pounced on by Tigers in NCAA Tournament

It was one and done for the Minnesota men’s tennis team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Durham, N.C., last weekend.

The 37th-ranked Gophers were beaten 4-0 by the 33rd-ranked Clemson, South Carolina Togers.

The Tigers pounced on the doubles point with Jarmaine Jenkins and Nathan Thompson winning 8-1 against Minnesota’s Chris Wettengel and Andres Osorio at No. 1. The Tigers’ John Boetsch and Damiisa Robinson then beat Clay Estes and Aleksey Zharinov 8-4 to secure the first point of the match.

Zharinov, ranked 64th, lost in straight sets at No. 2 singles and Estes lost at No. 4 to Boetsch. Ryan Young clinched the match for Clemson with a three-set win over freshman Brian Lipinski at number No. 6 singles.

The Gophers finished their season 14-10 overall and a third-place 8-2 record in the Big Ten. Their appearance in the tournament marks a school-record 11 straight berths.

Minnesota coach David Geatz doesn’t plan on letting that mark slip away.

“Our guys expect to go to the NCAA tournament every year,” Geatz said. “It would be a big disappointment if we didn’t.”

The Gophers have battled injuries all season, and they came to a head at the end of the season.

Junior captain Avery Ticer, who injured his left foot April 3 against Michigan, was barely able to compete in the Big Ten Championships and did not participate in the NCAA tournament.

Freshman Andres Osorio, who plays at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles, has been battling a wrist injury for much of the latter part of the season and has been limited in parts of his game. In some matches he has been unable to hit a backhand shot or volley at the net.

Other Gophers like senior Clay Estes also have had to deal with nagging injuries.

But the beaten-up Gophers still finished third in the Big Ten with an 8-2 record and fought their way through Indiana in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament advancing to the semi-final match where they were beaten 4-0 by Ohio State.

“I can’t remember a worse year in terms of injuries and bad breaks,” Geatz said. “But I think you have to give these guys a lot of credit for what they were able to do.”

Zharinov continues

Zharinov will continue his season in two weeks as he travels to Tulsa, Okla., for the 2004 NCAA Singles Championships.

He is one of six players from the Big Ten to earn a berth in the competition which will begin Wednesday.

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