Vlad Lobek learns from his freshman season

The freshman clinched the latest victory for the Gophers last weekend.

Freshman Vlad Lobak returns the ball during his doubles match with partner Eli Ogilvy against the University of Pennsylvania at the Baseline Tennis Center on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Jack Rodgers

Freshman Vlad Lobak returns the ball during his doubles match with partner Eli Ogilvy against the University of Pennsylvania at the Baseline Tennis Center on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Max Biegert

For freshman Vlad Lobek, the past weekend in Indiana offered a prime example of learning from experience. 

Last Friday, the winner of the match would take home the victory in the dual against Indiana. Despite losing the first set, Lobek battled back in the second to force a third, where he ended up losing what would have been the dual-winning victory.

Instead of hanging his head, Lobek clinched the victory for the Gophers in the next dual against Purdue on Sunday.

“I learned that [I’ve] got to continue to stay aggressive. I’m happy that I played well, it’s just I didn’t clinch the way I wanted,” Lobek said. “I clinched the match on Sunday staying more aggressive, and it was a great feeling.”

Lobek was born and raised in Ukraine. Once he arrived in America, he wanted to get acquainted with his new country. 

He joined a team with many European players, and they were able to help Lobek feel at home. Teammate Stefan Milicevic said coming from a different country can be tough. He said he connected with Lobek because they both took similar paths to Minnesota. 

Lobek said that he struggled with adjusting to life on campus at first, and making a lot of new friends helped turn things around. He began asking questions and trying to get as much advice from his friends and teammates as possible. 

“As his English improved, he started asking more questions to the point where his questions were overwhelming,” said junior Josip Krstanovic. “He is not shy of asking for any advice and he brings honesty to the team by not being shy of saying anything or telling how he feels, and that’s what I love about him.”

Now with his season coming toward its end, Lobek feels as comfortable as he ever has since arriving. He credits seniors Felix Corwin and Matic Spec for how professionally they handle practice and prepare for games. 

“I am just trying to absorb everything from everyone to make myself better because everything is different,” Lobek said. 

Lobek has played sparingly this spring. He has gone 1-1 from the No. 6 singles position, and his record in the No. 5 spot is also 1-1. All four of the matches he has played in have entered a third set. 

Not playing every week can leave a lot of uncertainty for a player. However, Lobek is all right with waiting for his name to be called. He focuses on practice to make his game as sound as it can be. He said he focuses on two things — trying to be aggressive and staying consistent with that. 

“I’m always happy to play, and whenever I have the chance, I try to do the best job I can,” Lobek said. “Minnesota men’s tennis is great and it’s a great feeling to be a part of this team whether I’m playing one day or not.”

Lobek will look to build off what he called a positive trip in Indiana, going 1-1 on the weekend. He hopes for more opportunities as the Gophers near the end of the regular season. They face off against Michigan State on Friday at the Baseline Tennis Center and then Michigan on Sunday. 

Lobek will try to uncork some of the potential many of his teammates see in him. 

“That bounce back the other day against Purdue showed that he has a lot of game,” said Milicevic said. “We are looking forward to seeing how he develops.”