Merzbacher joins father at Minnesota

Head coach Chuck Merzbacher recruited his daughter to play for the Gophers.

Jack White

Freshman Caitlyn Merzbacher just finished her first college tournament last weekend, where she went 4-1 in singles and 6-0 in doubles at the Gopher Invitational. 
Her father was there to see it all because he’s also her head coach. 
“She was in some really tough matches, and she gutted them out and played really well,” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said. “I was really proud of her in singles and doubles. I think it was a good way to start her freshman year.”
 
At the end of her high school All-American tennis career, Caitlyn Merzbacher said she was considering San Diego State and Cornell besides Minnesota. That meant Chuck Merzbacher had competition recruiting his own daughter.
 
“I tried to make it normal for her. I think we did a good job of that,” Chuck Merzbacher said, on recruiting his daughter. “We really wanted her to look at Minnesota, but we said,
‘Hey, go look at other schools, and if you think Minnesota is the one, then we want you to be here.’ ”
 
The two competed in a father-daughter invitational in Boston last summer, which they both said was one of their best experiences on the court.
 
“That was maybe my favorite tennis memory of all time,” Caitlyn Merzbacher said.
 
Caitlyn Merzbacher also has a strong relationship on the team with her doubles partner, Mehvish Safdar. 
 
The two won both their matches together over the weekend. 
 
Merzbacher and Safdar both played at high schools in Ohio and even played in the same state championship tournament in 2012. 
 
“[Caitlyn Merzbacher] has been a great addition to the team. She’s awesome. She’s a fun spirit,” Safdar said. “We’ve actually been friends for a while. We’ve known each other since we were kids. Growing up in Ohio and being teammates now, we’re getting closer. We had a good friendship in Ohio, and now it’s just building.”
 
Caitlyn Merzbacher left Ohio when her father left Ohio State after coaching there for 16 years to become head coach at Minnesota, his alma mater.
 
Caitlyn Merzbacher then moved to Edina High School for her junior year, where she won two state titles in singles in 2013 and 2014.
 
Now, she’s making an impact for Minnesota with her father watching all the way.
 
“I think she’s just getting started. She’s really figuring out things,” Chuck Merzbacher said. “Every day she gets better. … She seems to be getting used to it pretty quickly.”