Gophers learning from tough nonconference schedule

Minnesota opened up its season against three Power 5 teams, two of which are still undefeated.

Felix Corwin returns the ball at the Baseline Tennis Center on April 21.

Felix Corwin returns the ball at the Baseline Tennis Center on April 21.

Max Biegert

The Gophers have started against smaller schools before getting into conference play in seasons past, but this year is different. 

Minnesota (1-2) has played against NC State (4-0), Tennessee (7-2) and Notre Dame (5-0) to start the season. The only team the Gophers beat were the Volunteers. 

“We gathered a lot of information for us to use from these matches to improve,” head coach Geoff Young said. “The loss hurts for a little while, but after that it is important for the guys to reflect and get better from it.”

The Gophers kicked off their season in a home dual against NC State, where the winner was decided by the last singles competition of the day. The Gophers lost 4-3 after NC State’s Alexis Galarneau defeated Minnesota’s Stefan Milicevic in three sets. Minnesota then traveled to Texas for the ITA Kick-Off last weekend.

The Gophers earned their first victory by defeating Tennessee 4-3 in another dual that was decided in the final match. This time, sophomore Eli Ogilvy defeated Nicaise Muamba of Tennessee to clinch victory. In the team’s first two duels, the meet came down to the final point in singles after the Gophers won the doubles point.

The team could not qualify for ITA Indoor Nationals after they lost to Notre Dame on the second day of the ITA Kick-Off 4-1.

Milicevic has yet to find earn his first victory in the No.1 singles spot. He has faced the No. 16 ranked player in the country and the No. 36 ranked player to get his season started. In his match against Tennessee’s Timo Stodder, Milicevic lost the match in straight sets.

“The tennis is a bit faster and opponents are a bit tougher and I need to be physically ready and keep my mindset positive and not go to the negative side,” Milicevic said. “You need to be tough and stay committed to your game.”

Minnesota will look for its second victory of the year against Sacramento State (0-2) on Friday. Despite their 1-2 start, the Gophers are excited for the season and what they are capable of doing.

“All six of us need to play like a team and we need to stay positive in order to perform our best,” Milicevic said. “If we are at our best we can be top 15 in the country.”