Minnesota picks up two Big Ten victories

Senior Leandro Toledo volleys the ball at the Baseline Tennis Center on March 27 against Purdue.

Daily File Photo, Liam James Doyle

Senior Leandro Toledo volleys the ball at the Baseline Tennis Center on March 27 against Purdue.

Danny Chen

After defeating Michigan and Michigan State on the road, No. 32 Minnesota improved to 8-1 in conference play over the weekend.
 
The team has also won seven of its last eight Big Ten matches.
 
“We were steady and had good attitudes. [We] competed pretty well for the most part on both days,” head coach Geoff Young said. 
 
In the first meet against Michigan Saturday, the Gophers came out dominating.
 
The No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams won without much trouble, defeating their opponents 8-4 and 8-5, respectively.
 
Then, in singles competition, Minnesota dropped only one game at the No. 3 singles position, defeating the Wolverines 6-1.
 
The team didn’t drop a single match against Michigan State on Sunday, winning 7-0.
 
“I think all of the guys played really well this weekend,” freshman Matic Spec said. “Even though the teams we played may not be the best this year, we played hard from the first point and kept that momentum up.”
 
Individually, Spec extended his singles winning streak to 10 wins after defeating Alex Petrone of Michigan 6-1, 6-3 and Brett Forman of Michigan State 6-3, 6-2.
 
“I played pretty smart and didn’t make stupid mistakes,” Spec said. “I also thought that I read my opponents well. But I’m just playing match by match. I don’t try to look at what my record is and how many matches that I have won.” 
 
Additionally, senior Leandro Toledo continued to sustain a consistent performance.
 
After being named Big Ten Athlete of the Week last Tuesday, Toledo defeated Michael Zhu of Michigan 6-3, 6-1 before finishing Gijs Linders of Michigan State 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).
 
Considering the Gophers’ level of confidence, Spec said they have a chance at beating No. 3 Illinois next weekend.
 
“What matters for our team is [moving] on to the next match,” Spec said. “We are playing against Illinois [next], and they are a really good team. But if we play like we are playing right now, we can do well.”
 
Women drop two
 
Before the weekend, Minnesota had not lost at home since Feb. 22
 
But the Gophers weren’t able to keep the streak alive, losing to Northwestern and Illinois 7-0 and 5-2, respectively.
 
“We had some really close singles matches against Northwestern,” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said. “But they are talented at every spot, so it was just a difficult match there.”
 
In the meet with Illinois, the Gophers had a chance at winning.
 
No. 5 singles Julia Courter and No. 4 singles Aria Lambert each won their first set before dropping their next two sets.
 
Had they both won at least one additional set, the Gophers would have had four team points, giving them a victory.
 
Minnesota won only one match in the singles competition after winning the doubles point.
 
No. 6 singles Paula Rincon-Otero won her match after three sets.
 
“I just wanted to keep fighting for the team,” Rincon said. “We were still playing, so I wanted to get that ‘W’ to help the team win.”