Doubles troubles the focus as Gophers begin spring season

Minnesota has played a trio of top-20 teams leading up to today’s dual with Drake.

Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s men’s tennis team will look to double its chances of winning the Big Ten this season.

Before the Gophers can do that, though, they’ll need to win a doubles point.

They will get their next chance at a doubles victory today as they play host to Drake.

Off to a 1-2 start, the 43rd-ranked Gophers haven’t won a doubles point yet.

Sophomore Nic Edlefsen said the focal point of team play is going to be getting a point before the singles matches.

“We’ve gotten pretty manhandled in doubles,” Edlefsen said. “If we can get that (point), we only have to win half the singles instead of four out of six.”

Coach David Geatz said focusing on the point will also help the team play better as a unit.

“We haven’t played very well in doubles,” Geatz said. “But I think as a team we’re picking up our game in the singles.”

The last time the Gophers won a doubles point was Sept. 24 in the first round of the Nebraska Invitational.

They won only one out of their nine doubles matches during spring season.

But it’s tough to win doubles matches against highly ranked teams, and that’s the quality of opponents the Gophers have seen in their first three duals.

Virginia and Washington, teams Minnesota lost to, and Tulane, which Minnesota beat, are all top-20 teams.

Senior captain Avery Ticer said the tough early schedule might benefit the Gophers. “We definitely jumped right into the fire,” Ticer said. “A lot of teams play one or two easier matches to start the season off, but

we jumped right in there

and played some of the best teams.”

Ticer said that this should help the team by the time the Big Ten season comes around, especially against perennial favorite Illinois.

“Illinois right now is above everybody,” he said.

Minnesota has finished third in the Big Ten standings the last four years, whereas Illinois has won the Big Ten title each of the last eight seasons.

When asked about his team’s ability to compete for the Big Ten title against fifth-ranked Illinois, Geatz said his team will need to improve.

And the doubles point wouldn’t hurt.

“They are a whole level above us right now,” he said.

Softball season kicks off

Minnesota’s softball team kicks off its season tonight against Concordia-St. Paul.

Minnesota and Division II Concordia faced off in October when they split a doubleheader.

The game will act as a tune-up for the Gophers heading into a five-game weekend Thursday through Sunday in the Metrodome Classic.