Men’s tennis team makes move in Big Ten

Dan Mirman

After a subpar showing in the Corpus Christi Invitational two weeks ago, the Gophers men’s tennis team made a statement this weekend against the state of Michigan.
Minnesota dropped only one point in its two matches against Michigan (7-0) and Michigan State (6-1).
The most impressive win came Sunday, when the Gophers dropped just one set in a dominant victory over the 21st-ranked Wolverines. Minnesota improved its Big Ten record to a perfect 4-0, 16-4 overall.
The long and short of the Minnesota victory over Michigan State on Saturday was the two players who led the way. The tallest player on the team, Thomas Haug, at 6 foot 3, won at No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles. Meanwhile, the shortest player on the team, Harsh Mankad, at 5 foot 8, claimed victory at No. 2 doubles and No. 1 singles.
Overall, the team turned in a solid performance, topping the Spartans 6-1.
“Everybody I saw played real well. Eric Robertson (at No. 6 singles) won in straight sets, Tyson Parry played a good match and Thomas Haug is playing great tennis.” coach Dave Geatz said.
The Gophers defeated Michigan State at the Corpus Christi Invitational two weeks ago. The win Saturday brought the Gophers’ overall record this year against Michigan State to 10-1. Joining Mankad and Haug with two wins each were Tyson Parry (No. 3 doubles, No. 4 singles) and team captain, Martin Michalowski (No. 1 doubles and No. 5 singles).
The Gophers came out and set the tone right away — they won all three doubles matches to set the pace for both weekend wins.
“We’ve been playing great doubles all year, and I think that’s the strength of our team,” Geatz said. “When you come off the court 1-0, it’s pretty tough to beat a good team four of the six singles matches. So if you get that doubles point, it means a lot,” Geatz said.
The wins follow a rough weekend at the Corpus Christi tournament two weeks ago, when the Gophers’ ranking dropped from 21st in the nation to 30th. But the team was able to make a statement against Michigan State that Corpus Christi was an aberration and not the norm.
“We just made our lives difficult (at Corpus Christi) by having everybody play bad at the same time,” Haug said. “But now we are getting it back together, everybody fought tonight and hopefully we can continue it.”
The Gophers were able to take the first step toward putting Corpus out of their heads with their stellar play that saw them fall a third set tiebreaker short of pulling off a sweep of Michigan State. And it was Mankad’s play that really represented what kind of night it was for the Gophers.
After teaming up with Jorge Duenes to come from behind to win at No. 2 doubles, the gritty freshman won in straight sets at the top men’s spot (7-6, 6-1).
“Even though I won, the first set was disappointing. After that, I decided to play solid and was able to take advantage my opponent starting to tire.” Mankad said.
Next Friday, Minnesota has the unenviable task of being forced to head to Hawaii during spring break for a tournament, where they will start off by taking on BYU and Hawaii.