Singles play is strong, doubles need work

Minnesota had the best singles record of any of the six schools competing.

Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota’s men’s tennis team looked suspiciously similar to past Gophers teams during coach Geoff Young’s debut.

And that’s not just because former coach David Geatz was roaming the courts.

Minnesota once again looked like its usual dominant self in singles, something which has been a staple for the team in recent years. However, the Gophers continue to search for answers in doubles.

Minnesota went 21-5 in singles action and 7-6 in doubles play at the Gopher Invitational this weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center.

The three-day, round-robin, mock dual event saw the Gophers, who competed against players from Drake, New Mexico, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Iowa and Wisconsin-Madison, finished the exhibition with the best singles record of any of the other five teams competing.

Senior captain Mikey Kantar said the weekend as a whole was satisfying, but the Gophers still have plenty of room for improvement, particularly in doubles.

“It basically shows kind of where we are at right now,” Kantar said. “We’re a very good singles playing team and the doubles play is OK. But for us to move to the next level, we have to start winning doubles.”

Kantar said it isn’t a question of effort or talent when it comes to improving the doubles play. Rather, it is the players trusting themselves.

“Doubles, especially in an eight-game pro set, comes down to confidence,” he said. “It’s not like we lose badly in doubles. It’s one break. It’s not skill level, it’s confidence.”

Young, who said doubles will be his main priority this season, had mixed reactions after seeing his doubles lineups challenged for the first time this season.

“Some areas of the doubles are surprisingly good; some areas are not so good,” he said.

Last year’s No. 1 singles player, senior D.J. Geatz, said the weekend could have gone better for him personally, as well as for the team.

“I think we are better, what we’re playing right now, but it’s the first match of the year,” he said. “But it’s good to get the cobwebs out early and go from there.”

Geatz, who is ranked No. 37 in the preseason International Tennis Association singles rankings, had an up-and-down weekend on his way to a 2-1 mark.

On Saturday, Geatz fell to New Mexico’s No.1 singles player, 90th-ranked Max Jones, 1-6, 2-6.

Geatz rebounded later in the day, cruising past the Badgers’ Michael Muskievicz 6-2, 6-1. Sunday, Geatz downed Drake’s Ivan Mendoza, 6-4, 7-5.

“I didn’t have my best and it showed,” Geatz said of his performance Saturday. “I got beat worse than I’ve gotten beaten in a long time. It was disappointing but I was able to shake it off against (Wisconsin and Drake).”

Overall, Young said he was pleased with how the Gophers performed in their first competitive situation of the young season. He said he learned about the surprising amount of depth his team has.

“It’s been really good to see the guys play under a little pressure,” he said. “This is the first time in a tournament setting and it’s been a good learning experience for both myself, my assistant (Urban Ljubic) and the (team).”

Mixed feelings

D.J. Geatz said his relationship with Young has been somewhat dicey in the early going, but said it was because he has been frustrated with how he has been playing, not because Young has replaced his father, David Geatz, as coach.

“We’ve had our ups and downs but we’re starting to get along a lot better,” D.J. Geatz said.

David Geatz, who resigned last spring amid allegations of giving his players extra benefits, was at the event all weekend. D.J. Geatz admitted it was strange.

“It’s different, but its good to see him still come out,” he said.

Pair travels to Tulsa

Geatz and senior Nic Edlefsen – who is ranked No. 84 in the ITA singles rankings – left Sunday for the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla. Play begins today and continues through Sunday.

Geatz will participate in the main draw, while Edlefsen will be competing in the qualifying draw. The duo will also be teammates in the doubles draw.

Young said he has high hopes for Geatz at the event, despite the high level of competition.

“D.J. is a very experienced player; he knows what that tournament is about,” Young said. “It’s a great opportunity for him to rack up a couple of really good wins. I think he is entering the tournament with the goal of winning it all, which is what he should be doing.”