Seniors bond as doubles partners

Minnesota doubles partners Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg celebrate after a victory against Tulsa at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Daily File Photo, Lisa Persson

Minnesota doubles partners Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg celebrate after a victory against Tulsa at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Danny Chen

Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg were randomly paired together for doubles during their sophomore year. âÄúWe won both matches, and weâÄôve been playing [together] ever since,âÄù Hamburg said. And itâÄôs worked out for the Gophers, as the two seniors have honed their game and built chemistry together. Winning the doubles point gives a team the advantage heading into the singles competition, and the duo has helped the Gophers do that for the past three seasons. Out of 21 meets this season, Minnesota has won the doubles point 17 times. And of those 17 times, theyâÄôve won a total of 15 meets. This year, though things havenâÄôt been smooth at all times, Hamburg and Froment have won 10 matches together. âÄúItâÄôs really important to win the doubles point, especially against a really good team,âÄù head coach Geoff Young said. âÄúIf you go into singles only needing to win three, instead of four, thatâÄôs a big lift. Plus, after you win the doubles point, it gets the guys really pumped up going into singles [play].âÄù In their first season together, Froment and Hamburg played well enough to be ranked 79th for one week of competition. In 17 matches together, the duo won seven. But despite the single-digit victories, the first year was just a stepping stone. In their junior year, Froment and Hamburg won nine of 12 matches to start the spring season, with two being unfinished matches and only one real loss. The success they had last season led to them ranking as high as 16th in the nation and consistently in the top 25. âÄúWe played some good doubles and had a couple good wins,âÄù Hamburg said. âÄúI think we just knew each otherâÄôs game really well, and it meshed really well. I had a pretty good serve, and he had a good return. We had a really good season last year.âÄù However, this year the duo had a slow start to their spring season. In their first seven meets, Froment and Hamburg only won three matches. Following that, they lost four of the next five contests. âÄúWe were not playing the best and just need a few wins to get it going,âÄù Froment said. âÄúWe just [had] to get back to how we played in the beginning of the [fall] season.âÄù Young said the losses donâÄôt necessarily represent a slump. âÄúWe had a really tough schedule, and I think it was a product of them playing tough teams that made it look like they were in a slump,âÄù Young said. âÄú[But] when you are playing top teams, itâÄôs tough to get the win. Sometimes, you play well and not get the win.âÄù Whatever the issue was, it started to disappear for the duo. They have now won six of the last eight matches and are currently ranked 49th in the nation. Froment said after they lost three in a row, he knew they had to get their momentum back. âÄúWe came back with two wins,âÄù he said. âÄú[And] we [have] to keep it going and play better.âÄù Hamburg said they are returning more now, which is a huge key to winning in doubles. âÄúWe started to make more balls, and IâÄôm starting to serve a little bit better,âÄù Hamburg said. âÄúI think playing more matches got us back into rhythm.âÄù The No. 1 doubles team has helped the team win five of the seven recent doubles points. âÄúTheyâÄôre seniors, and they know what theyâÄôre doing,âÄù Young said. âÄúThey know what it takes to give them a chance to win. âĦ Sometimes they will win, and sometimes they wonâÄôt. And thatâÄôs going to happen for the rest of the season. All we could ask is for them to put themselves in critical positions where they have a chance to win.âÄù