Men avoid sweep against Ohio State, split weekend

Both the men and women’s teams defeated Penn State and lost to Ohio State.

Freshman Leandro Toledo returns the ball with a strong backhand Sunday at Baseline Tennis Center. Toledo lost 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 to No. 12 Chase Buchanan of Ohio State.

Freshman Leandro Toledo returns the ball with a strong backhand Sunday at Baseline Tennis Center. Toledo lost 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 to No. 12 Chase Buchanan of Ohio State.

by Charlie Armitz

Losing six of seven individual matches at home typically isn’t a good result — unless the opponent is Ohio State.

Minnesota fell 6-1 to the third-ranked Buckeyes on Sunday at Baseline Tennis Center. It was the Gophers’ third loss in four matches, but it was the first time since 2008 that it won an individual match against Ohio State.

“Today was a good match,” head coach Geoff Young said Sunday. “I think we played better today than on Friday, but Ohio State’s a really good team, and it’s tough to close them out.”

The No. 47 Gophers defeated unranked Penn State 5-2 on Friday at home to snap a two-match losing streak, but they needed a tiebreaker in doubles and a pair of third sets in singles to do it.

They fought from behind against Ohio State on Sunday, dropping all three doubles matches and their first five singles matches before Mathieu Froment won his No. 6 singles match in a third-set supertiebreaker.

Prior to Froment’s win, Minnesota had lost 31 consecutive individual matches to the Buckeyes.

“He’s been playing a lot of close matches this year,” Young said of Froment. “To finally get one in the win column … has been a long time coming.”

Froment had lost six of his last nine matches — five of them in three sets — before Sunday’s upset. He did not play in Friday’s match against Penn State.

Freshman Leandro Toledo nearly pulled off a monumental upset when he took Ohio State’s No. 12 Chase Buchanan to three sets at second singles. Toledo won the first set 6-2 but unforced errors cost him in the second and third sets, which he lost 6-1 and 6-1.

“It looked like he ran out of gas,” Young said. “[Buchanan] is really fast and plays good defense, so it’s easy to go for more than you should.”

Toledo won his 10th singles match of the season Friday in three sets, tying Julian Dehn for the team-high. Dehn won Friday in straight sets but lost Sunday in two close sets, with both matches coming at No. 4 singles.

Minnesota (9-6, 4-3 Big Ten) plays at Indiana and Purdue next weekend.

Women take positives from two close matches

Three consecutive losses over two weeks had the Gophers women’s tennis team seeking more than a win this weekend at Penn State and Ohio State.

Head coach Tyler Thomson demanded a better effort from his players — and he got it as the Gophers defeated Penn State to snap a three-match losing streak before losing to Ohio State on Sunday.

“We accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish this weekend other than the loss,” Thomson said. “We addressed and were consistent with all the things we had discussed and practiced this week.”

The Gophers improved to 13-0 against teams ranked outside the top-30 when they beat No. 47 Penn State 5-2 on Friday. But they fell to unranked Ohio State 4-3 on Sunday when they lost their first four singles matches.

Alexa Palen lost her fourth and fifth consecutive matches over the weekend, playing at the top two singles positions. She started the year 12-0.

But she and her teammates dominated the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes in doubles. Minnesota won all six doubles matches, dropping just 21 of the 70 games played.

 “We were very much in control with our footwork, with our strategy, with our energy [in doubles],” Thomson said. “We just were very active and positive with everything that we did.”

Thomson said he saw the same kind of positive energy from his singles players despite a few individuals’ struggles.

Four different Minnesota players won a three-set match over the weekend, and the Gophers won four of the seven three-set matches played.

Natallia Pintusava won both of her singles matches, as did Doron Muravnik. Freshman Aria Lambert returned to the lineup at No. 6 singles and split a pair of three-set matches.

The Gophers (13-5, 3-4 Big Ten) host Indiana and Purdue next weekend.