Off to 8-1 start, Minnesota heads into possibly toughest weekend of play yet

Zach Eisendrath

The way Minnesota women’s tennis coach Tyler Thomson sees things, his team is just as talented as nearly every opponent remaining on the Gophers’ schedule.

What will decide how well Minnesota does between now and May will be based on how consistently the Gophers compete to their maximum potential, Thomson said.

So even with his team off to an 8-1 start, Thomson is demanding the most out of his squad as it prepares for its Big Ten season-opening match this weekend.

After welcoming Missouri to Baseline Tennis Center at 6 tonight, the Gophers begin conference play Sunday with a dual against Iowa at noon.

“The remainder of our schedule, almost every single match won’t be determined by talent, but how well we compete,” Thomson said. “So, we’re making it a high priority to compete hard every single day.”

In preparation for arguably the Gophers biggest weekend of the young spring season, Thomson conducted a series of grueling practices during the team’s bye last week.

“We went really hard last week in practice; it was probably our most physically demanding practice of the year,” Thomson said.

Senior Danielle Mousseau said she believes Thomson pushed the team – making them compete for a reward or consequence after every drill – not because they were out of shape physically, but to toughen them mentally.

“Something was on the line after every drill. We played a lot (in practice) with pressure and we were learning to play tired,” she said.

Mousseau, who hasn’t beaten Iowa in four years with the Gophers, said this is the best chance the team has to beat the Hawkeyes.

“We know it’s a big weekend,” she said. “Everyone is really looking forward to it, more so than any other weekend so far this season.”

“I don’t always hear the buzz, if you will, but from what I gather from my assistances, there is a tremendous amount of excitement from the weekend,” Thomson said.

Men hit road, again

The Minnesota men’s tennis team, which has stumbled out to a 1-8 start to the spring season, travels to Boise, Idaho, for a pair of duals this weekend.

The Gophers, who will be playing in their third state in three weekends, take on Boise State at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, then conclude their weekend with an 11:00 a.m. match against William & Mary on Sunday.