Toledo proves worth with high-level play in N.Y.

Minnesota’s Leandro Toledo nearly upset the nation’s No. 5 player.

Dane Mizutani

A quiet murmur surrounded the courts at the US Open tennis site in Flushing, N.Y., over the weekend.

The reason for the chatter: Gophers sophomore Leandro Toledo.

Toledo fell in the second round at the National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships over the weekend, but he made a name for himself in the process.

“I think it made some coaches pay attention,” Toledo said, “and I think now I’m on the list of top guys.”

A select group of 32 singles players from across the nation was invited to the prestigious end-of-the-season tournament.

Toledo was one of them, and early in the tournament, he proved worthy of the invitation.

He admitted he was nervous to participate in a tournament of this caliber, but he didn’t let it show.

Toledo dominated in the first round and defeated John Lamble of Santa Clara, 6-4, 6-0.

“I felt more comfortable after that,” Toledo said, “and I played way better after that.”

Toledo moved into the second round after his victory, which set up a date with Marcos Giron of UCLA. Giron is the No. 5 singles player in the nation, but Toledo had him on the ropes through two sets.

“He was up 6-2, 5-4 and had match point to win,” Minnesota assistant head coach Urban Ljubic said.

Giron battled back to win the set 7-5. That set up a decisive third set in which Toledo fell and bowed out of the competition.

“It shows he can beat anyone in the country,” Ljubic said. “He had a No. 5 guy in the nation on the ropes. His level of tennis was great … and he deserved to be here.”

Toledo said he wouldn’t have changed a thing from his second-round match. He said he thought he played well enough to win, but it didn’t work out.

“He played really well on the match points … and he got used to my game,” Toledo said.

Ljubic said he was pleased with Toledo’s aggressiveness in the tournament.

“He stunned a couple people up here because they did not expect that much pace and that much pressure in a match,” he said. “He’s becoming a real threat.”

And Ljubic isn’t the only one who noticed.

“I had coaches coming up to me after the matches were over and said he was going to be a threat in college tennis until he graduates,” Ljubic said.

Ljubic said the two built a good relationship over the weekend with the amount of time they spent together.

“It was nice because, when his matches were over, we got a chance to go out to the city and walk around,” Ljubic said.

Toledo said he feels like he can keep up with the best players in the nation after this tournament. But he said the city is motivation enough for him to try to qualify for the tournament next year.

Men close out fall season in Florida

While Toledo was making a name for himself in New York, three different members of the men’s tennis team competed at the Lakewood Ranch Invitational in Florida over the weekend.

Minnesota sent Juan Pablo Ramirez, Mathieu Froment and Ruben Weber to the tournament and saw mixed results.

The Gophers advanced the pair of Ramirez and Froment to the finals of the tournament, but they lost 8-2.

In the singles bracket, all three players competed, but no one made it further than the quarterfinals.

It was the final fall tournament of the season for the team.

“We saw we have things we can work on,” head coach Geoff Young said. “I think, overall, it was a good way to close out the fall.”

The Gophers will resume action in six weeks, Young said.

Women wrap up in North Carolina

Minnesota wrapped up its fall schedule this weekend with the Kitty Harrison Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Gophers had success at the tournament as the duo of Pauline Gilbert and Tereza Brichacova won their doubles flight. Jessika Mozia also finished second in her singles flight.

“We’re done for the fall, and we’re ready for the spring to get things going again,” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said.