Minnesota splits weekend matches

The Gophers lost their first Big Ten match on the men’s side this weekend.

Minnesotas Jessika Mozia returns the ball against Montana on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Image by Bridget Bennett

Minnesota’s Jessika Mozia returns the ball against Montana on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Baseline Tennis Center.

by Dane Mizutani

Minnesota head coach Chuck Merzbacher has raved about his team’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity this year.

That skill was on full display at Baseline Tennis Center over the weekend.

The Gophers opened with a lackluster 7-0 loss to Oklahoma State on Friday but went on to a convincing 6-1 win over Oregon on Sunday.

“We were mentally tough, and that’s really what we needed to continue to build on for the rest of the season,” Merzbacher said. “That’s going to be big come Big Ten time.”

Merzbacher said the match on Sunday was a lot closer than the final scorecard read. He said he was very proud of the way his team was able to close out individual matches against Oregon.

“We were really clutch when we needed to be,” Merzbacher said Sunday. “We were tough at those crucial moments of the match.”

The Gophers’ only loss in the match with Oregon came at the No. 1 singles spot. Minnesota junior Tereza Brichacova fell in a third-set tiebreaker, but the loss didn’t matter, because the match was already well in hand.

While Minnesota dominated the scoring Sunday, it dropped its first doubles point of the year against Oklahoma State in the match Friday.

Merzbacher said the doubles point has been a huge point of emphasis this season, and he wants his team to continue to dominate in that facet moving forward.

“It’s a big deal to us,” he said. “It helps to put some pressure on the other teams when we get out and win that.”

The Gophers return to action next weekend with a trio of matches at Baseline Tennis Center. They open up Big Ten play in two weeks on the road against Wisconsin.

“This home stand is important to us,” Merzbacher said. “We want to set the tone for the rest of the season.”

Gophers fall to Iowa

Minnesota fell in its first Big Ten match of the season with a 4-3 loss to the rival Hawkeyes on Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Gophers fell behind early after dropping the doubles point against Iowa.

That point proved to be all the difference.

Minnesota and Iowa each won three singles matches on the afternoon, and the Hawkeyes secured the victory with a win at No. 2 singles.

Gophers head coach Geoff Young said last weekend that he needed more production from the bottom of the lineup.

He got a little more production this weekend as junior Mathieu Froment won his No. 4 singles match.

Still the Gophers need more production from the bottom half of the lineup to be competitive in the Big Ten.

Leandro Toledo continued his impressive junior campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 win at the No. 1 singles spot.

Minnesota will aim to bounce back from its most recent loss next weekend with a home match against Drake.