Women’s tennis team entering conference tourney with momentum

Brice Lehner

The Minnesota women’s tennis team will face Penn State Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at 9 a.m. at the Nielsen Tennis Center in Madison, Wis.           

The Gophers (11-11, 3-7 Big Ten) are entering the tournament coming off one of their best weekends of the season, defeating both Indiana State and Purdue and snapping a five-match losing streak in the process.

Minnesota coach Tyler Thomson said the team feels confident heading into the tournament.

“We played well against Purdue on Sunday and if we can continue that intensity and carry that into (Thursday’s) matchup I think we’ll be in good shape,” Thomson said.

The Gophers enter the tournament as the No. 8 seed, while the Nittany Lions (5-17, 2-8 Big Ten) are the No. 9 seed.

Minnesota also boasts a victory over Penn State this season when the Gophers defeated them 5-2 in March.

The Gophers are getting healthy at the right time of the year as well.

Sophomore Alessandra Ferrazzi competed last week against both Indiana State and Purdue for just the second and third times since March 22 and having her back in the starting lineup was something that had an immediate impact.

“It helped a lot,” Thomson said.  “We’ve only had our starting lineup for four of our Big Ten matches this seasons and she’s a big part of our starting lineup.  It was really nice to have her back in the mix.”

Thomson was hoping the injury bug would have left the team sooner, but he was still glad the team is healthy again.

“We were hoping it would have happened a little earlier,” he said.  “I think if we would’ve had our full lineup we would have had a better chance of getting a higher seed.”

Minnesota has never won the conference tournament and hasn’t reached the semifinals since 2003.