Men fall in semis, women in quarters

Freshman Matic Spec returns a shot at the Baseline Tennis Center on April 19.

Daily File Photo, James Healy

Freshman Matic Spec returns a shot at the Baseline Tennis Center on April 19.

Danny Chen

After earning a share of the Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 1995, the Gophers headed into the conference tournament on a high note.
 
However, the team was stopped short in the semifinal match against No. 2 Ohio State. Minnesota, the three seed, lost to the Buckeyes 4-0 on Saturday.
 
“We were prepared to do the things that could get us to win the [meet],” head coach Geoff Young said. “I thought we played hard and focused on our game, but they were just better that day.”
 
The Gophers had a first round bye before routing Michigan 4-0 to reach the semifinals. They then fell to Ohio State for the second time this season.
In the doubles competition, the Gophers pulled an upset at the No. 1 spot with seniors Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg.
 
The duo defeated the fourth-ranked doubles team in the nation 8-6.
 
“We played them a month ago and lost to them in a tiebreaker, so we knew that we could beat that team,” Froment said. “We started really good and won our first game, and then that carried us through the entire set.”
 
But that was Minnesota’s lone victory of the meet.
 
The Gophers’ No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams came up short in their competitions, both losing 8-4.
 
And the team didn’t fare much better in singles, with Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles all falling in straight sets.
 
The three consecutive losses in those positions left the other three singles matches unfinished.
 
“I was in a fight,” No. 2 singles Matic Spec said. “I could have come back, and I thought I was playing well in the second set. Felix [Corwin] was doing well, too. Maybe if we won the doubles point, things could have went the other way.”
 
Corwin lost a tight first set 7-5, and he was finishing his first game in the second set before his match was called off.
 
Although the Gophers’ Big Ten championship run is over, the season is still alive with the NCAA tournament.
 
The NCAA selection show is Tuesday, and Young is confident his team will earn a bid.
 
“We’ll make the tournament,” he said. “Our ranking is high enough that I don’t see how we wouldn’t make the tournament.”
 
Women reach quarterfinals
 
After defeating Michigan State 4-1 on Thursday, the Gophers’ quarterfinal match against Michigan was short-lived.
 
Minnesota lost every match against the Wolverines.
 
“If you look at the scores, the doubles played kind of quick,” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said. “They just moved and they jumped on us early.”
 
The Gophers only won three doubles games combined, and their Nos. 1 and 3 doubles lost 8-0 and 8-1, respectively.
 
And after that, the Gophers dropped three consecutive singles matches.
 
No. 1 singles Tereza Brichacova had a difficult time with her opponent, losing 6-1, 6-2, and No. 4 singles Aria Lambert ended up dropping both of her sets 6-3, 6-3.
 
Merzbacher said Brichacova and Lambert faced some tough players, but the rest of the matches were closer.
 
“Jessika [Mozia’s] match was a forced match that she lost,” Merzbacher said. “But she was up by three in the second set, and [at one point] was two points away from winning that set. Same with Caroline [Ryba]. She lost her first set and then won her second set.”
 
Mozia lost 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), and her match gave Michigan the fourth point of the meet. Ryba left her match unfinished at 4-6, 6-2.
 
“Unfortunately in tournament play, they stop at four [team points], so it might look like we got beat pretty badly. But we had some good matches across the board,” Merzbacher said.
 
The early exit from the Big Ten tournament leaves Minnesota on the bubble for a NCAA tournament berth.
 
“We moved ourselves closer, but I think we are maybe five spots out. But who knows? It’s hard to figure out, but we are definitely on the list to be considered,” Merzbacher said.