Men upset Aggies on Friday in meet at Baseline

Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota’s men’s tennis team wasn’t supposed to do this. After losing last year’s No. 1 singles player ” and arguably their best doubles player ” the Gophers were supposed to take a step back, not forward.

But after giving the nation’s top-ranked team ” Virginia ” a good match last weekend, and then upending 13th-ranked Texas A&M 4-3 this weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center, 54th-ranked Minnesota (1-2) is surprising early in the spring tennis season.

Friday, the Gophers used the all-important doubles point to pull out the narrow victory.

With the teams splitting first and second doubles, the third doubles team of juniors Mikey Kantar and Sion Wilkins defeated Jerry Makowski and Matt Bain 8-6 to secure the doubles point ” something the Gophers have struggled with.

“It was really nice for us to get the doubles point,” Kantar said. “We really struggled with that last year. In singles, we are always going to be tough, but the doubles point is really helpful.”

But it was a team effort. With the match’s fate still undetermined, senior Adrien Debreyne beat Conor Pollock 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 to give the Gophers the split in singles, and ultimately the match.

“He is so smooth and never gets nervous,” Kantar said of Debreyne. “He’s a guy we want playing in those situations because he never breaks down.”

Coach David Geatz said beating the Aggies reassured his players that they will be able to compete with anybody in the country.

“A lot of people thought we were going to be much worse,” Geatz said. “But to beat the No. 13 team in the country, it lets us know that we’re going to be all right.”

Kantar ” the team captain ” agreed with his coach.

“We have a lot of belief in our coaches and our ability,” he said. “What we believe in was verified by beating the 13th-ranked team.”

Saturday, Minnesota couldn’t repeat its magic, falling 5-2 to No. 22 Texas.

Highlighting the Gophers loss to the Longhorns was the strong individual play of junior’s D.J. Geatz, Andres Osorio and Nic Edlefsen.

At first doubles, Geatz and Osorio downed Roger Gubser and Callum Beale 8-5. Edlefson defeated Beale at second singles, 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

Still, after a solid weekend Kantar said the team has a lot of work to be done.

“Our goal this year is not to show glimpses (of success) but to be consistent,” Kantar said. “That’s what separates good teams from great teams ” consistency.”

And although the season has just begun, Geatz has lofty goals for his team.

“The one thing we talked about is not sitting around watching the NCAA tournament,” he said. “We have way too much going for us. We have unbelievable facilities and great support from the athletic department. We have too much going for us not to make the tournament.”

Women struggle

Minnesota’s women’s tennis team opened its 2006 spring campaign this weekend ” hosting the Minnesota Court Classic at the Baseline Tennis Center. The Gophers fell to No. 11 North Carolina 7-0 Friday and 4-3 Sunday to 62nd-ranked Oklahoma.

After a disappointing performance against the Tar Heels, the Gophers (0-2) were much more competitive in their second match of the season, splitting the singles matches 3-3 and winning one of the three doubles matches.

In the losing cause, senior Nischela Reddy and junior Ida Malmberg narrowly defeated the Sooners No. 1 doubles team of Gabby Baker and Irina Lykina 8-7.

Freshman standout Mariana Spilca picked up her first spring season win of her career, beating Lykina at two doubles 7-5, 3-6, (10-3).