Gophers fall in the championship of the Courtside Classic

Utah defeated Minnesota 4-3 in the championship match.

Senior Caroline Ryba prepares to return the ball to the University of Northern Iowa during her singles match at the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Jan. 26.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

Senior Caroline Ryba prepares to return the ball to the University of Northern Iowa during her singles match at the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Jan. 26.

by Max Biegert

With both teams lining the sidelines and tensions rising, Utah was able to take home the Courtside Classic trophy.   

Minnesota (4-1) lost 4-3 to Utah (1-1) in a tight match Sunday. The match came down to Minnesota’s Camila Vargas Gomez against Taylor Calton, and Calton clinched the victory or the Utes.

Minnesota was up 3-2 going into the final two matches of the day. Barbara Mancera would have clinched the championship for the Gophers; however, she lost in a three set match 6-1, 5-7, 4-6. Calton clinched the championship for Utah when she got past Vargas Gomez. Calton won that match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

“In doubles, with six game sets, we got down early and every game matters and we got ourselves in a hole,” head coach Catrina Thompson said. “In singles, I was proud of the way we fought, but obviously this is a heartbreaker.”

Utah opened the championship match by winning the doubles point after beating the Minnesota pairing of Caroline Ryba and Cammy Frei 6-4. Ryba and Frei came back from a 5-0 deficit, but fell just short of making the comeback. Utah got their first doubles win after beating the pairing of Caitlin Merzbacher and Mehvish Safdar 6-1. 

Utah took the second point and first singles match of the day after Minnesota’s Tina Kreinis lost in straight sets 6-1, 6-1. Minnesota bounced back however after Annemarie Emme took care of business in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 to get the Gophers on the board. The other four matches carried on into the third set. 

Merzbacher beat Victoria Robertson of Utah 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 and quickly after that win Ryba finished up her third set match against Alexia Petrovic 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. That left the Gophers up 3-2 in the championship match. 

“If you look at the scores, they were all close and they came down to just a couple points, we lost but it could have gone either way,” Ryba said. “In my match, I was just focusing on making her hit another ball, that’s kind of my game and I was able to do that today.”

Gophers beat Marshall 6-1

Last year, Minnesota lost to Marshall 7-0, but it was a different story on Saturday. 

Gophers beat the Thundering Herd 6-1 in the first match of the Courtside Classic. 

Minnesota began the day taking the doubles point. Kreinis and Emme won the first doubles match 6-3 and then, from the No. 1 doubles spot, Safdar and Merzbacher won another 6-3. 

“I was proud of the girls, to lose 7-0 against Marshall last year and come back and win 6-1 speaks a lot for the girls and the effort they put in to improve,” Thompson said. 

Vargas Gomez won 6-2, 6-0 over Ana Marhuenda of Marshall 6-2, 6-0. Out of the No. 2 singles spot, Kreinis gave Minnesota their third point of the day after beating Stephanie Smith 6-2, 0-6, 6-1. Merzbacher clinched the victory for the Gophers in a straight set victory 6-4, 7-5 to earn Minnesota’s fourth win of the season. 

”This weekend we learned that everyone individually is so important and we need to take care of ourselves, and then each other once we are done,” Emme said. “Every point matters and every person matters.”