New coach debuts this weekend at Gopher Invite

Teams cannot officially compete head-to-head during the fall season or they violate NCAA rules.

Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota’s men’s tennis coach Geoff Young already

has an agenda for his new team’s first weekend of competition – improve its doubles play.

The entire 12-man roster will have a chance to do so

during the season-opening Gopher Invitational at the Baseline Tennis Center this weekend.

The invitational starts today and ends Sunday morning. Drake, Iowa, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Green Bay are the other five teams participating in the exhibition matches.

Young said he will rotate his entire squad into the six

singles and six doubles positions during the round-robin event.

Although the competition will be played in dual format, only individual results will be recorded, since team-versus-team competition during the fall season is in violation of NCAA rules.

Young said he will be gearing most of his attention

this weekend towards evaluating Minnesota’s doubles play. Last spring, the Gophers

went undefeated during the Big Ten regular season

when winning the doubles point.

“Given that statistic, it’s pretty obvious that doubles is a place that we should try

and improve some,” Young said. “One of the ways I want

us to improve our doubles

is the spirit at which we

compete.”

In just the first few weeks

of practice, senior captain Mikey Kantar said he has noticed a strong emphasis on doubles.

“We’ve been working on doubles-specific things

more than we did last year,” Kantar said. “It’s been a weakness of ours, there is no denying it.”

Kantar said it makes sense for the team to focus on doubles early in the fall, because it could put them over the top come spring.

He said a strong performance in doubles is essential if Minnesota plans on being a Big Ten championship contender and one of the top-20 teams in the country.

“It’s not just important to the coaches,” he said. “It’s

becoming a point of pride.

We know we’re better at

doubles than we’ve shown. We want to become a team

where you’re not going to win the doubles point against (us).”

Young said he will also be learning about the competitive nature of his players this weekend. At the same time, his players will be learning about Young.

Kantar said that it will take some time to move away from previous coach David Geatz’s philosophy and adapt to Young’s.

“It’s always a learning

process,” he said. “No two systems under two different coaches are going to be the same.”

Despite the fact that this weekend’s results will only help each player’s individual International Tennis Association rankings, senior Sion Wilkins said the Gophers have plenty of reasons to compete hard this weekend.

Wilkins said that competitive matches this weekend will help some of the players return to the form they were at last spring. Only a handful of players participated in summer tournaments.

“No matter how hard we practice or how good practices are, it always takes you a while before you get match tough,” he said.

Wilkins also said the Gophers want to send a message to their competition.

“This tournament means something,” he said. “We’re all really competitive. If we can, we want to send a message to the Big Ten teams and to

the other teams by having

everybody perform at a high level. Ideally we want to dominate. Hopefully we can do that.”

Ljubic named assistant

Young announced on Monday the hiring of Urban Ljubic as assistant coach.

Ljubic, who is a native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, assisted Young the last two seasons at the University of Denver.

“We are lucky to have Urban join our family here at Minnesota,” Young said in a statement. “He is experienced both as a coach and player. His values and priorities line up well with our vision for Gopher men’s tennis.”