Three Gophers win consolation draws in Philly

Junior Danielle Mosseau beat the opponent that ended her season a year ago.

by Zach Eisendrath

Usually the fall portion of the women’s tennis season has very little significance. But for Minnesota’s women’s tennis player Danielle Mousseau, her trip to Philadelphia was an important one.

Mousseau used her draw at the Cissie Leary Invitational to release demons that have been haunting her for more than four months.

Last spring at the Big Ten Championships in Champaign, Ill., Mousseau’s singles match against Penn State’s Katelyn BeVard turned out to be the decisive match in deciding if the Gophers or Nittany Lions would advance to the second round. With the point total tied at 3, BeVard upended Mousseau 6-4 in the third set to advance Penn State with a 4-3 victory.

On Friday, the junior capitalized on her payback opportunity. Paired against BeVard in the first round of the main singles draw, Mousseau wasted little time, disposing of her Big Ten foe 6-2, 7-5.

Mousseau added to her big weekend when she defeated the Nittany Lions’ No. 4 singles player from a season ago, Jenny Shular, in the consolation bracket.

“It was nice to kind of have revenge,” Mousseau said

about beating BeVard. “It was a big win for my confidence. I was really happy about it because I really wanted to beat her this year. It kind of happened a little earlier than I thought, but I’m happy about it.”

Mousseau also had a big weekend in doubles action. Teamed with junior Mariana Spilca for the second-straight weekend, the tandem went 2-1.

Even after choosing to mix up a majority of his doubles teams for the road trip, coach Tyler Thomson decided to keep the experienced duo together after they won their match at the Gopher Invitational last weekend.

“We understand each other and are really used to playing with each other,” Mousseau said.

After saying he was not totally satisfied in the Gophers’ doubles play last weekend, Thomson said seeing improvement was a main part of his agenda this weekend.

Although not set in stone, Thomson said his new lineups made progress this weekend. Minnesota went 8-4 in doubles play.

“I think there is some shifting still left to do,” Thomson said. “But I thought we played much better doubles this tournament. The second day we won all the doubles besides one. I’m still not sure we have our teams set, but as a whole we played better.”

Headlining the doubles efforts was the new team of senior Lindsay Risebrough and junior Alex Seaton. In their first weekend together, Risebrough and Seaton posted a 3-1 mark on their way to winning the consolation doubles draw.

After falling to Temple’s Radka Ferancova and Yuri Kurashima in the first round of the main draw, the Gophers’ tandem rallied off three straight wins in the back draw.

Risebrough and Seaton downed the mixed-school team of Harvard’s Catriona Stewart and Penn’s Amanda Avedissian Stewart 8-5 in the consolation final.

“We ended up getting our rhythm, learning how each other plays and started doing really well,” Risebrough said.

Thomson said Risebrough and Seaton both have the athleticism and potential to be a great doubles team if they stick to the basics.

“The thing they focused on was keeping things simple,” he said. “They both sometimes have a tendency to hit what we call Hollywood shots that aren’t really necessary. They did a nice job of keeping things simple and doing what was necessary and not any more than that.”

Risebrough, who is in the second weekend of her comeback bid after sitting out all of last season because of a shoulder injury, said she gained confidence as the tournament progressed.

“I think, for me, every match got better,” she said. “I was a little nervous my first match, but by the end of the tournament I was playing my best tennis.”

Thomson said there were a lot of positives to take away from the Gophers first road trip of the young season.

“It’s one of those fall tournaments where your goal just is to get a lot of match play in,” he said. “It was a positive because everybody came out of it in tact with their health and we got some real good matches and some good wins.”