Gophers ready for some outdoor action

Minnesota’s tennis teams will travel to Florida to play over spring break.

Jace Frederick

Apparently, Gophers do head south for the winter. They just wait until March to do it.

Minnesota’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will head to the Sunshine State next week to take on Florida Golf Coast.

Gophers women’s head coach Chuck Merzbacher said the Big Ten season is supposed to be played outdoors, so most teams from the Midwest and Northeast regions of the U.S. attempt to schedule spring break road trips for the teams to play outside.

“It’s just a little bit different game,” Merzbacher said. “It just takes a little bit to get used to it.”

The Gophers women’s team is coming off a win over Marquette. The men’s team dropped two matches on the West Coast last weekend.

This escape to Florida might be just what both teams need at this point in the season.

Minnesota traveled to Orlando, Fla., last year, where the women won a 6-1 match over Connecticut and the men dropped a 4-3 contest with Miami.

Gophers junior Leandro Toledo said one of the main differences with the outdoor game is that the points get longer. He said he prefers to play indoors for the most part.

Minnesota junior Aria Lambert, on the other hand, said she doesn’t see much of a difference regardless of where the match is played.

“You just have to move your feet, and obviously, you have to deal with the sun [outdoors],” Lambert said. “I think everyone’s used to playing outside, though, so I don’t think it’s super different.”

A major difference next week will be the temperature, though. While the highs in Minneapolis are supposed to be in the 30s, temperatures in Fort Myers, Fla., are expected to hit the high 70s and low 80s.

It’s a business trip aimed at improving on the tennis courts, but the athletes and coaches plan to enjoy the escape to a warmer climate.

“I can’t wait to bring my running shoes and go for some runs,” Merzbacher said. “It’ll be good.”