Men’s tennis re-starts after Japan trip

by Tim Klobuchar

The schedule for the Gophers men’s tennis team tells a little lie.
Technically, the fall schedule begins this weekend when senior Ben Gabler and sophomore Adam Selkirk travel to the Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
Actually, though, the Gophers got their first tennis experience of the season in the Far East last month when Coach David Geatz brought his team to Japan.
Minnesota played a handful of exhibition games during its 10-day stay in Japan, but the competition was not up to Division I standards. So tennis “took a back seat,” said Selkirk, to some valuable cultural insights.
For one thing, the Gophers found that their body dimensions were a bit ill-suited for daily life there.
“In our hotel, your feet would hang off the bed and the shower head would hit you in the chest,” Gabler said.
Secondly, the trains the Gophers frequently took sightseeing or to tennis venues were more crowded than a phone booth meeting of Overeaters Anonymous.
“We’d spend half of a two-hour train ride standing up,” Gabler said. “And (the trains) were so packed that we had to keep pushing people to get out.”
Not that they spent the whole trip longing for the good old U.S.A. On the whole, the Gophers had fun and were grateful that they had the chance to visit a country so unlike America.
“It was a great experience for the team,” Gabler said. “We learned a lot about Japanese culture.”
Gabler, for one, will be back in familiar territory when he plays in Tempe this weekend. He played in the tournament last year and has a chance to do some damage this year.
Gabler is the preseason No. 1 player in the Midwest, though he is recovering from an injury to his left elbow (Gabler is left-handed).
“It’s doing good,” he said of his elbow. “I played every day in Japan, and it got a little tender toward the end, but now it’s pretty healed.”
Of his chances at coming out on top of the 32-player field, Gabler said, “That’s what I’m shooting for. I’ll see what players are there, and then I want to win the thing.”
Selkirk, meanwhile, has looked so impressive that Geatz thinks he may be the surprise of the tournament.
“He’s been playing so well, it wouldn’t surprise me if he won it,” Geatz said.