Home opener brings in a pair of stout opponents

No. 22 Oklahoma and Oregon are a combined 7-1 this season.

Samuel Gordon

WomenâÄôs tennis head coach Tyler Thomson wants to see one thing above all else from his team this season: consistency.

âÄúConsistent level of intensity, consistent level of hard work, consistent level of teamwork, essentially. In terms of results, I donâÄôt really have any expectations aside from staying with those daily process goals and taking it one match at a time,âÄù Thomson said.

The GophersâÄô next match will take place on Friday, when Minnesota (2-2 overall) opens its home season against No. 24 Oklahoma (3-1). Then on Sunday, Oregon (4-0) comes to town.

Despite two strong opponents, senior and All-Big Ten honoree Alessandra Ferrazzi feels that the Gophers will be able to compete.

âÄúBoth teams that weâÄôre going to play this weekend are ranked a little bit better than us. But this year we have a better team,âÄù Ferrazzi said. âÄúWe have really good freshmen playing at the top of our lineup in both singles and doubles.âÄù

One of those freshmen, Natallia Pintusava, has already made quite the splash in her first season with the team.

The Belarus native is coming off an impressive fall, in which she posted an 11-5 singles record and defeated the 36th– and 37th-ranked players nationally. This didnâÄôt go without notice from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, as sheâÄôs No. 51 nationally in the latest ITA poll, the highest ranking of any Big-Ten player.

But that ranking might tumble. Pintusava has lost her last three matches, after opening the season with an upset over the No. 27 player in the nation.

However, that doesnâÄôt slow Pintusava and her goals of reaching the NCAA Championships and achieving All-America status. SheâÄôll have a chance to get back on the right track against Oklahoma and Oregon.

The Sooners are coming off an impressive victory against then-No. 14 Arkansas.

The Ducks are no slouches themselves. Despite being unranked, Oregon is 4-0 and has dropped just three individual matches.

No matter the opponent, Coach Thomson is confident in his teamâÄôs talent.

âÄúI think the team has the potential to be as successful as any since IâÄôve been in Minnesota, but we still have a long way to go to realize that,âÄù Thomson said.

âÄúThe team is still finding their identity. WeâÄôve had some good learning experiences in our first couple weekends of competition âĦ In order for us to be successful I think the intangibles are going to be more important than the way that we actually strike the ball.âÄù