Gophers split matches versus ranked foes

No. 33 Minnesota lost to No. 2 Ohio State but defeated No. 44 Penn State in the next dual.

Sophomore Stefan Milicevic returns the ball during a match against Ohio State University at Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, March 30.

Image by Max Ostenso

Sophomore Stefan Milicevic returns the ball during a match against Ohio State University at Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, March 30.

by Max Biegert

The Gophers pulled the dual match even at 2-2 with three matches left all in the third set, but could not finish the job as the Buckeyes ended on top Friday.

No. 33 Minnesota (11-5, 4-1 Big Ten) faced off against No. 2 Ohio State (18-2, 5-0) at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Buckeyes beat the Gophers 5-2 in the dual.

“The match got pretty close deep into the dual match, but obviously [Ohio State] is a really good team and they played the big points well,” head coach Geoff Young said.

Minnesota went with a different doubles lineup than previous matches. Senior Felix Corwin was paired with Josip Krstanovic to make up the No. 1 doubles spot, while Spec was paired with Eli Ogilvy in the No. 2 position. 

Ohio State came out firing in the No. 3 position. Facing Stefan Milicevic and Marino Alpeza of the Gophers, the Buckeyes cruised to a 6-1 victory. Spec and Ogilvy dropped their match 6-3 to give Ohio State the early 1-0 lead in the dual.

Ohio State extended its early lead getting victory in the No. 5 spot over freshman Jackson Allen 2-6, 0-6. No. 104 Spec got the Gophers on the board first with a straight set win over No. 43 J.J. Wolf, 6-2, 6-3. 

Soon after the team’s first victory, Minnesota shifted momentum even more when Ogilvy and Krstanovic forced a third set after dropping their first set.

In the No. 3 spot, Milicevic, ranked 75th, pulled off the victory over No. 78 John McNally 6-3, 6-4. 

Behind two victories against ranked opponents, the dual was even at 2-2 with three matches to go. 

“Those guys have a lot of experience where they play at a high level,” Spec said. “I think it is great to see that they are a No. 2 team in the country and tonight we proved we can compete with anyone.”

Krstanovic dug himself a deep hole getting down 5-1 in the third set, but he battled back to get the set to 3-5. However, he couldn’t climb all the way back and lost his match 6-7, 6-1, 3-6. 

Ogilvy got out to a quick 3-2 lead in his third set, but couldn’t pull it out as he lost his match 3-6, 6-3, 3-6. 

Corwin forced a third set as well, but could not defeat the No. 4 Mikael Torpegaard. Torpegaard beat Corwin 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. 

Gophers defeat Penn State 

On Easter Sunday, the Gophers beat No. 44 Penn State at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis. 

Minnesota defeated the Penn State 5-2 to go 1-1 on the weekend. The Gophers bounced back from a tough loss against No. 2 Ohio State on Friday night. 

“I think [Penn State] caught us hitting our stride playing well Friday and playing well today and I am very happy with the match,” Young said. 

The Gophers began the dual by winning the doubles point. Young stuck with the same doubles lineup from Friday. The pairing of Corwin and Krstanovic quickly defeated their opponents 6-0. Minnesota’s pairing of Spec/Ogilvy lost 4-6 in the No. 2 spot for the Nittnay Lions to pull even in doubles. 

Minnesota clinched the doubles point with a close match that ended 7-5 in favor of the Alpeza and Milicevic pairing.

After capturing the doubles point, Krstanovic quickly beat Ben Lieb of Penn State in the No. 5 spot 6-1, 6-1 to extend the Gophers lead to 2-0. Corwin moved to 9-2 at the No. 1 spot in a straight set win over No. 117 Constant De La Bassetiere, 6-2, 6-1.

Milicevic clinched the victory for the Gophers after he won his match of the weekend. Milicevic beat his opponent 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 3 spot.

Spec also added his second victory of the weekend in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, to give the Gophers their fifth point on the day. 

“Just to see that we were that close to [Ohio State] was great motivation for this match and we proved to ourselves that we can beat anyone in this country,” Krstanovic said.