Women split weekend after Palen injury

The men’s team won twice on the road, including a comeback against No. 31 Indiana.

Gophers freshman Tereza Brichacova returns a hit from an Indiana University opponent Friday at the Baseline Tennis Center.  Brichacova won both of her singles matches over the weekend to improve to 10-6.

Gophers freshman Tereza Brichacova returns a hit from an Indiana University opponent Friday at the Baseline Tennis Center. Brichacova won both of her singles matches over the weekend to improve to 10-6.

Charlie Armitz

As the spring season has progressed, the Gophers women’s tennis team has continued its high level of play against quality opponents.

It just doesn’t have the results to show it.

No. 31 Minnesota split a pair of home matches over the weekend, defeating Indiana 7-0 on Friday and losing to Purdue 4-3 on Sunday.

After a 12-1 start, the Gophers are 3-5 in their last five matches, all against conference opponents.

A key doubles win by Alexa Palen and Doron Muravnik propelled the Gophers to Friday’s sweep over the No. 47 Hoosiers, but Palen suffered an injury during her singles match and did not play singles Sunday.

The Gophers’ chances to win suffered because of it, as three players had to move up in the singles lineup. Only one of them won.

“[Palen] is one of our better players, and we really missed her,” said head coach Tyler Thomson.

Palen won in straight sets at No. 2 singles Friday but was in tears during the second set as a result of pain.

Muravnik, who normally plays third singles, replaced Palen at the second spot Sunday against the No. 34 Boilermakers and lost the clinching match in three sets.

Natallia Pintusava, Julia Courter and Tereza Brichacova each won their third sets to narrow the final margin.

Pintusava and Brichacova both went 2-0 on the weekend in singles, while Courter won her only singles match after returning from an injury.

Injuries have prevented Minnesota from translating its improvements from a year ago to wins in the Big Ten. While the team has remained much more competitive than a year ago, it has fallen out of contention for a conference title and into a dogfight for a favorable seed in the conference tournament.

“It hurts us when we don’t have our full lineup,” Thomson said. “In two matches that we’ve lost recently, we haven’t had our full lineup, and we lost nailbiters at the end.”

The Gophers will play at Nebraska and host Iowa this weekend to finish the regular season.

Men win two in Indiana

The No. 40 Gophers men needed a true team effort to defeat Indiana and Purdue on the road this weekend, as all seven positions recorded at least one win.

Minnesota beat the Hoosiers 4-3 on Saturday and the Boilermakers 5-2 on Sunday to pick up its first road victories since March 9.

Julian Dehn and Phillip Arndt were the only two Gophers players to win twice in singles, playing at the Nos. 3 and 4 spots. Each of the other seven positions finished the weekend 1-1.

Minnesota rallied from a 3-1 deficit to upset No. 31 Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. Dehn and Rok Bonin won three-set singles matches, and Arndt won in two close sets, to reverse the deficit.

On Sunday against No. 74 Purdue, both singles players who lost the previous day — Leandro Toledo and Mathieu Froment — picked up crucial wins after the Gophers fell behind 1-0 in West Lafayette, Ind. Jack Hamburg added a win at sixth singles in place of Juan Pablo Ramirez, who lost Saturday at the position.

Depth has been a major asset for Minnesota all season long, as it has won six of nine Big Ten matches despite lacking the star power of most of the conference’s top teams.

“You need to be able to have [depth] to beat the good teams,” head coach Geoff Young said.

The men will close the regular season by hosting Nebraska and traveling to Iowa this weekend.