The Gophers drop two matches in Missouri

The pairing of Mehvish Safdar and Caitlin Merzbacher went 2-0 on the road trip.

Junior Barbara Mancera returns the ball during her singles match against the University of South Dakota at the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Feb. 9.

Jack Rodgers

Junior Barbara Mancera returns the ball during her singles match against the University of South Dakota at the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Feb. 9.

Max Biegert

The Gophers first road trip did not go well.

Minnesota (7-3) dropped both matches against Missouri (9-1) and Memphis (6-3) by a score of 4-3 in Columbia, Missouri on Friday and Saturday. 

Each dual meet came down to the last match of the day. On Friday night, freshman River Hart came up short in her attempt to earn the clinching point. On Saturday, it was sophomore Camila Vargas Gomez. 

“These close matches we are playing in is a sign that the girls are competing really well, we just have to finish the match,” head coach Catrina Thompson said. “We have to secure the doubles point and try and get on the board early.”

Vargas Gomez lost the No. 6 singles spot 6-4, 6-3 in the dual-deciding match.

Memphis got off to a good start in the singles competition, taking the first two matches. 

The No. 3 singles matchup between Annemarie Emme and Memphis Alisha Reayer ended with Reayer on top 6-0, 6-1. Caroline Ryba dropped her match in the No. 1 singles spot 6-3, 7-5. Barbara Mancera picked up Minnesota’s first singles victory of 6-1, 6-3. Caitlyn Merzbacher also captured a win 7-5, 7-5. 

Minnesota won doubles points from the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. Mehvish Safdar and Merzbacher clinched the doubles point and moved to 2-0 on the weekend after beating Katherine Cao and Hanna Soh 6-3. 

“It is great that they are leading the way for us at the doubles right now and we are going to look to them to keep leading the way with them being both upperclassmen,” Thompson said.  

Minnesota falls to Missouri 

The Gophers started the weekend facing the hosts of the dual meet tournament. The final match came down the No. 6 singles spot. Clare Raley of Missouri clinched the dual match after beating Hart in a three-set thriller 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

“This was the first time she found herself in that position and I just told her it is a learning experience,” Thompson said. “I told her, when you look back at this you are going to grow from it.” 

The Gophers earned victories in the first three singles spots. Ryba beat Marta Oliveira and then Tina Kreinis beat Serena Nash. Emme beat Ellie Wright as well. Mancera lost her match in the No. 4 spot 3-6, 5-7. Merzbacher dropped her match 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. 

The pairing of Safdar and Merzbacher defeated No. 49-ranked pairing of Raley and Nash 6-0. Kreinis and Emme clinched the double point with a 7-5 victory. The only Minnesota doubles pairing to drop a match was the pairing of Hart and Ryba. 

The Gophers will travel to Washington State next weekend to take on Washington State and Eastern Washington.