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Men host pair, women hit road

After mixed results last week, both teams will play two Big Ten foes.

It’s not Ohio State, but the Minnesota men’s tennis team will not be coming across a lull in the schedule anytime soon as it plays host to two top-40 teams this weekend.

In the midst of the Big Ten conference schedule, the 29th-ranked Gophers (12-4 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) will do battle with No. 25 Michigan on Saturday before turning around and facing No. 40 Penn State on Sunday.

Both of these matches come on the heels of a convincing 7-0 road loss to No. 2 Ohio State last weekend after defeating No. 71 Indiana the day before.

Coach Geoff Young said the quick turnaround of back-to-back day matches can be a challenge.

“I thought our effort was fine against Ohio State, but we found out pretty quickly why they are where they are,” he said. “I think the tough match with Indiana the day before drained us a bit.”

But Minnesota will need to be up to the back-to-back challenge twice more in the regular season, battling a conference that holds seven ranked teams outside of itself.

Young said the team welcomes the tough conference schedule as it continues its quest for an NCAA tournament bid.

“It’s great and something that keeps us ready every week,” he said. “To get better, you need great competition week in and week out.”

Women take to the road

The women’s tennis team ended up with zero victories in last week’s home stand, but the Gophers found plenty to hang their hats on heading into another challenging Big Ten weekend.

In dropping two tough matches, 4-3 to Indiana and Ohio State, respectively, No. 53 Minnesota (7-7, 0-3) was encouraged by the competitive nature of the matches.

Junior Danielle Mousseau said battling No. 25 Michigan on Friday and unranked Penn State on Sunday gives the Gophers a chance for two conference victories.

“What we took away from last weekend is that we have the ability to beat pretty much any team in the Big Ten,” she said. “That’s what we’re carrying into this weekend.”

Senior Ida Malmberg, who finished 2-2 in combined singles and doubles play last weekend, said the team is coming together at an important time in the season.

“Every match in the conference is going to be a battle,” she said. “Obviously that’s tough mentally, but we’re at the point where we really need to push ourselves to see what we’re made of.”

And just as the Big Ten has become a formidable player in the national men’s tennis scene, the same can be said for women’s tennis, where the conference holds seven ranked teams, including the Gophers.

Coach Tyler Thomson, now in the midst of his fifth season with Minnesota, said the team is ready for its first conference victory this weekend.

“What happened last weekend strengthens our confidence that the same opportunity for victory can present itself this weekend,” he said.

“We’ve realized that we don’t need to be scared of anyone in the Big Ten, and to place no one on a pedestal.”

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