Gophers hope to send Geatz out a winner

Zach Eisendrath

It was with great surprise that Minnesota’s men’s tennis team found out coach David Geatz will be stepping down at season’s end.

But now that the initial shock has passed, the Gophers want to send Geatz and assistant coach Adam Cohen out on the right note.

Geatz informed the team of his decision the evening of April 9, the night before Athletics Director Joel Maturi made the announcement official last Monday.

“We were definitely surprised,” junior captain Mikey Kantar said. “All of us really like and respect the coaches, but you know, it’s understandable, coach Geatz has been doing this for 25 years, so whatever he wants to do.”

Geatz’s departure means Cohen might not be back either. With assistant coaches on year-by-year contracts, Cohen will be back as an assistant only if the new head coach hires him.

“If he’s comfortable with hiring me and it’s a good fit, I would be comfortable staying,” Cohen said. “I’m a Minnesota boy – grew up here, played here and coached here.”

Cohen said he will apply for the head coaching job.

“I hope they give me a chance,” Cohen said. “But it’s up to the search committee what happens.”

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said in an interview Thursday that Cohen is welcome to apply and will be considered.

Junior Sion Wilkins said he’ll miss Geatz and will miss Cohen if he also leaves, but that he understands the situation.

“It was somewhat of a shock to me, I guess,” he said. “But it’s his decision, and for him, I think it’s the right choice at this point and time. But we’re going to miss coach Geatz and Cohen. They are good coaches and great guys.”

Geatz has made it abundantly clear that he wants the rest of the season to focus on what is taking place on the court, not off the court happenings.

“I didn’t want to make this a big deal,” Geatz said. “Maybe I should have waited until the end of the year.”

Although the reasons behind his resignation are still unclear, one thing is: The team wants to send their coaching staff out with something to remember.

“If anything, for me, it’s just extra motivation to try hard and finish off the season strong if it is their last,” Wilkins said. “Just make NCAAs, do the best we can and go out with a bang.”

Said Kantar: “We have a great team and want the season to go as long as possible. Now we want to live up to the potential that we have.”

Geatz said he was flattered that his players wanted to send him out on a high note.

“They are good guys. It’s one of the best groups of guys I’ve ever had; I love the guys. They are fun to work with and play hard with heart and passion.”

And what does Geatz want out of his last few weeks as Minnesota’s coach? Just the simple things.

“I just want to enjoy the guys, have some fun and see everybody work hard,” he said. “The other things will all take care of themselves.”

Finding their niche

All season long the Gophers have been searching for an identity at the three doubles positions – and now with juniors Nic Edlefson and D.J. Geatz filling that role, Minnesota believes it has found the right pairing.

“We’ve been struggling to find an answer at the three positions all season,” Geatz said. “It really has been a weakness of the team, but they have done a really good job lately.”

Before Saturday’s 8-6 loss to Indiana, the duo had five-consecutive Big Ten victories – impressive for a team that didn’t always play together during the Gophers’ nonconference duals. David Geatz rotated Kantar into the lineup with Edlefson and D.J. Geatz in hopes of finding the right combination, which he just might have done.

“They enjoy playing together, David Geatz said. “And that’s half of it right there.”

David McCoy contributed to this report.