Men split weekend home tournament

The Gophers men’s tennis team suddenly found itself in a must-win situation this weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Max Sanders

As a team hoping to make a deep run in the NCAA Championships, the Gophers menâÄôs tennis team suddenly found itself in a must-win situation this weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center. After a 5-2 loss to No. 16 Louisville Friday, No. 37 Minnesota rebounded Sunday for a 7-0 win over St. MaryâÄôs (Calif.). The Gophers (2-3) entered the weekend following losses to a premier program in No. 15 Wake Forest and a conference rival in No. 36 Michigan. FridayâÄôs match against the Cardinals was an equally tough test, but Minnesota started strong. The Gophers opened with a sweep of the Cardinals in doubles, winning three matches by an 8-5 score. With one point for sweeping doubles, Minnesota needed to win three of six singles matches to claim a win over Louisville, which featured three players ranked in the top 100 nationally. The Cardinals dominated the Gophers from start to finish, winning five of six singles matches. âÄúIn singles, everyone is not quite there yet,âÄù junior Tobias Wernet said. âÄúItâÄôs the beginning of the season; we all can play better.âÄù MinnesotaâÄôs off day Saturday was an opportunity to to study their technique in preparation for SundayâÄôs match with St. MaryâÄôs, which carried increased importance after the loss to Louisville. âÄúFor the standard that we want to carry this year, this was a must-win,âÄù Minnesota head coach Geoff Young said. The Gophers hoped to snap a three-match losing streak against a St. MaryâÄôs team that entered the contest winless in five matches this season. âÄúWe knew this was a little bit worse team than Louisville, but it was still tough to come up and do our best because we had that pressure of [knowing] we had to win this match,âÄù senior Dino Bilankov said. The Gophers again dominated doubles, winning all three matches, 8-3, 8-1 and 8-2. YoungâÄôs squad then rebounded from its singles struggles Friday by winning all six matches against an overmatched Gaels team. âÄúI still missed forehands, but I served better,âÄù said Wernet, who defeated the GaelsâÄô Lucas Tirelli 6-3, 7-5. âÄúThat video analysis yesterday helped me a lot to do those things right. That win was really important today.âÄù Young credited Wernet for his ability to bounce back after a loss Friday. âÄúHe did not do as well as he wouldâÄôve liked against Louisville,âÄù Young said. âÄúHe made some adjustments with his serve and served well, and the rest of his game followed.âÄù Bilankov also performed well Sunday. The senior bested the GaelsâÄô Sherif Hamdy 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Minnesota had already clinched the team victory, but Bilankov sought to provide a boost of morale after his Friday loss. âÄúLooking from the side, I had no reason to win my match,âÄù Bilankov said. âÄúI was down 5-3, I could just give up and weâÄôd still win the match, but I really tried to make sure that I battled until the end, and it turned out to be good.âÄù While the Gophers have already had a three-game losing streak this season, Young was happy with how his team bounced back Sunday. âÄúThis was not as high-level as the teams weâÄôve been playing, and we went through them pretty quick,âÄù Young said. Minnesota is off next week before hosting Drake Feb. 20.