Women snap six-game losing streak with two dominant wins

The men’s team also won with relative ease Saturday.

Dane Mizutani

Minnesota’s women’s tennis team has struggled for most of the past month, but it bucked that trend over the weekend.

The Gophers snapped their six-game losing streak with a pair of dominant wins over Northern Iowa and Carleton on Saturday at Baseline Tennis Center.

Both opponents were second-tier competition, but head coach Chuck Merzbacher said the wins gave his squad a much-needed confidence boost.

“We felt pretty confident about the matches,” he said, “so I think these matches were used to prepare for next weekend.”

Minnesota began its 10 hours of competition Saturday against Northern Iowa. The Gophers showed from the start that they were the more talented team. They dominated the doubles matches and didn’t drop a set on the singles side en route to a 7-0 win.

Minnesota was equally impressive a few hours later in a 7-0 victory against Carleton.

“I felt we were better at every position that we played, but we didn’t take anything for granted,” Merzbacher said Saturday. “We played hard and didn’t waste any games.”

Merzbacher chose to switch the lineups around in the second match because he wanted to get everyone involved. He said he was satisfied with the effort this weekend.

Merzbacher said a pivotal component this weekend was getting freshman Paula Rincon Otero into the lineup for the first time. Rincon Otero hasn’t competed this season as the team sorted out eligibility issues.

She dominated in her career debut with the Gophers and dropped two games all weekend.

“She’s good to go,” Merzbacher said. “She has been anxiously waiting, so it’s good to have her in the lineup.”

He said everyone is starting to settle in after what he called “a tough adjustment period” with the new coaching staff this season.

“They took care of business,” he said. “We’re really trying to build on this weekend for the rest of the season.”

Men

The Gophers men’s tennis squad beat Marquette 5-2 with relative ease Saturday night.

They traveled an hour south to compete in Rochester, Minn., and head coach Geoff Young said he was excited to bring the Gophers to another section of the state.

“We had a pretty nice turnout down there,” he said. “It was a good thing to be able to put on a show for our fans in Rochester.”

Minnesota kicked off play by winning the doubles point. Young said the doubles point has been key for the Gophers this season.

“We haven’t won it much this season,” Young said. “It seems the way it’s been going is if we win the doubles point, we win the match.”

That proved true Saturday night.

Young said he was especially satisfied with the pair of Brendan Ruddock and Jack Hamburg. Both have battled injuries in their careers, but now that they’re healthy, they seem to be clicking as the No. 2 doubles pair.

“They’ve only lost once together, and they have good chemistry,” Young said. “They’re doing pretty well and could be a big pair later this season.”

Leandro Toledo, who normally plays at No. 1 or No. 2 singles, didn’t compete over the weekend. Young said Toledo is healthy, and the team wanted to give other players a chance to compete.

Young said this match served as a confidence booster with the Big Ten season looming next weekend. The Gophers will kick off their Big Ten schedule at Wisconsin next week.