Despite hot start, Gophers drop fourth-straight conference match

The Gophers’ men’s tennis team began the season on fire, but haven’t brought the momentum into conference play.

Junior Eli Ogilvy returns the ball on Friday, March 22 at the Baseline Tennis Center. 

Courtney Deutz

Junior Eli Ogilvy returns the ball on Friday, March 22 at the Baseline Tennis Center. 

David Mullen

Although the No. 35 Minnesota men’s tennis team (12-5, 1-4 Big Ten) began the season on fire, the momentum from their non-conference schedule has not transferred over after dropping their fourth consecutive match. 

“We’ve got to practice hard and work on our aggressiveness and take a look at our games,” head coach Geoff Young said. “We need to keep trying to improve and get better and just not dismiss a result as a result.”

The Gophers went up against No. 1 Ohio State Sunday in hopes of bouncing back from a loss to Penn State Friday. However, their efforts were in vain; the Buckeyes dominated. 

Even though Minnesota’s doubles teams put up a fight in the three matches, the Buckeyes eventually took the early point from the doubles session. Ohio State took the point with victories from the No. 2 and No. 3 duos. The No. 1 doubles match went unfinished.

“I think our No. 1 doubles did well today, and I think they’re on the right track, so I think that’s a good thing for us,” Young said. “I thought today was a step in the right direction.”

In the singles portion of the match, the Gophers were overpowered by the top-ranked Buckeyes as they were swept in all six games. Although no player won their match that day, Young said these bring better opportunities for growth.

The Gophers’ match closest to victory came from senior Marino Alpeza, who took his match into three sets.

Friday

Friday’s match against Penn State marked a continuation for the Gophers’ struggles. The Nittany Lions edged Minnesota 5-2. 

In doubles, Young decided to make a change, swapping the No. 1 doubles duo of Josip Krstanovic and Stefan Milicevic with No. 3 Jackson Allen and Eli Ogilvy. The switch didn’t provide any benefit for the Gophers, and Minnesota lost the doubles point. 

The two bright spots for the Gophers on the day were No. 3 singles player Alpeza and No. 6 singles player sophomore Vlad Lobak. 

Alpeza dominated his match against Penn State’s Christos Antonopoulo in two sets, 6-4, 6-0. Lobak followed suit with a 6-1, 6-3 victory in his match to continue his success for the year. 

In order to get the team back into the winning column, Young said the team needs practice. 

“Each guy has different things that they can learn, so the [solution] is probably different for each guy,” Young said. 

Gophers’ men’s tennis returns to action next week against Purdue.