Men, women split matches

Both teams beat Penn State before losing to Ohio State.

Minnesota’s Tereza Brichacova plays against Ohio State on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota’s Tereza Brichacova plays against Ohio State on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at the Baseline Tennis Center.

by Dane Mizutani

Minnesota’s women’s tennis squad split a pair of matches at Baseline Tennis Center during the weekend.

The unranked Gophers had lost three straight matches entering the weekend, and head coach Chuck Merzbacher had said his team needed to respond.

They did Friday before losing a close match Sunday.

“I thought our intensity was good all weekend,” he said. “It’s just one went our way and one didn’t.”

Minnesota upset No. 33 Penn State 4-3 on Friday thanks to a pivotal win on the doubles side to start the match.

The Gophers used the 1-0 lead to their advantage and locked up the match after a singles win by freshman Paula Rincon Otero.

Merzbacher has said all season that his team performs well if it earns the doubles point, and it proved that Friday with the crucial upset.

“I think our intensity was really high against Penn State,” he said. “We stepped up and were tougher when we needed to be tougher.”

His team was just as tough Sunday against No. 52 Ohio State in a 5-2 loss.

Merzbacher coached at Ohio State for 16 seasons before he accepted the head coaching job at Minnesota this summer.

He said it was a little surreal to play against players he helped recruit. He also said he knew the team would be gunning for him this weekend.

“I’m sure they had this one circled on the calendar, and they played like it,” Merzbacher said. 

The Gophers started off the match on the wrong foot, as they struggled on the doubles side. Minnesota dropped both the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches 8-4, and the No. 2 doubles match didn’t finish.

“We put ourselves in a hole,” Merzbacher said. “We tried to dig out in the singles, and we did a pretty good job, but they were tough.”

Minnesota dominated at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, but the bottom half of the lineup couldn’t follow suit.

The few close matches went in favor of the Buckeyes.

“I feel like every time we had a chance, they had an answer,” Merzbacher said. “We didn’t give them anything. They took it from us.”

Men routed by juggernaut Ohio State

The Gophers knew what they were up against Sunday against Ohio State. The Buckeyes had lost just two matches all season and were undefeated in the Big Ten.

A red-hot Minnesota squad couldn’t slow them down.

The Gophers notched their fifth straight win Friday, winning 5-2 at Penn State, but they lost 7-0 at Ohio State on Sunday.

Minnesota struggled most of Sunday, and the only player to compete in a close match was sophomore Leandro Toledo at No. 2 singles.

Toledo led the nation’s No. 4 player early in the first set before losing 6-4, 7-5.