While the majority of students sauntered through campus last week, two Minnesota tennis stars were in Oklahoma making history.
Rok Bonin and Leandro Toledo both qualified for the main draw at the All-American championships in Tulsa, Okla. — the first duo to do so in more than a decade for the Gophers.
However, the run was short-lived as Bonin and Toledo both lost in the first round of the actual tournament.
“It’s by far the biggest tournament of the fall … so it was pretty good success to have two guys make it to the top 64 in the nation,” assistant coach Urban Ljubic said. “It was really good for our program.”
Toledo automatically qualified for the main draw based on his ranking, but he lost to Emilio Gomez from the University of Southern California in the first round, 6-3, 6-0.
Bonin had a tougher road to the show and had to win three qualifying matches to reach the main tournament.
“Those were pretty easy matches,” Bonin said. “It was tough because of the amount of matches, but I felt like I was prepared.”
Despite his preparation, Bonin, too, lost in his first-round match with Princeton’s Matija Pecotic, 6-0, 6-2.
Both athletes were bumped to the consolation bracket after their first-round losses.
Toledo continued to struggle, though, and fell to Malte Stropp of Mississippi State, 6-4, 6-2, to end his run.
“I’m upset with myself because I practiced well the weeks before the tournament,” Toledo said. “I made a lot of easy mistakes … and I could have done better.”
Bonin fared a little better than his teammate in the consolation bracket and beat Finn Tearney of Pepperdine in three sets.
He said it was “pretty sweet” to bounce back after a loss in the first round of the tournament and beat Tearney, who is ranked 14th in the nation.
Ljubic said overall he was satisfied with the weekend and that the week served different purposes — for Toledo it was more of a learning experience, and for Bonin it was a confidence booster.
“I gained a lot of confidence from these wins, and I definitely learned some stuff about myself,” Bonin said.
Toledo said the rest of the nation learned some stuff about the Gophers as well.
“We are two strong players, so I think we put Minnesota on the map for sure.”