Men hit road, women host

The men’s tennis team travels to Columbus this weekend to face No. 2 Ohio State.

Tyler Rushmeyer

The Big Ten season is in full swing for the Minnesota men’s tennis team and a one-two punch of conference foes awaits the team this weekend on the road.

The Gophers (11-3, 1-0 Big Ten) will match up with Indiana first on Saturday before traveling to Columbus, Ohio to take on the perennial powerhouse, No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday.

Senior captain Mikey Kantar said the weekend will be a valuable reintroduction to a conference that has six of its 11 teams ranked in the top 50 in the country.

“It’s an incredibly good conference, which is both an advantage and disadvantage,” Kantar said. “If we win, we put ourselves in great position for the NCAAs. The downside is there’s no such thing as an easy match.”

Minnesota, ranked No. 23 in the nation, opened conference play with a 4-3 victory over Michigan State, and will now begin a stretch of nine straight conference matches heading into April’s Big Ten Championship.

Senior Brian Lipinski said having a veteran squad like this year’s, which includes six seniors, is important for the remainder of the season.

“From our experience, we’ve learned to never overlook an opponent,” he said. “Last year Indiana beat us, so we need to be focused right away. After that, we can move on to Ohio State.”

First-year head coach Geoff Young, a two-time All-Conference selection as a player at Northwestern, agreed with the sentiment and said the weekend will provide his team with a great set of matches.

“Personally, all I’m thinking about right now is Indiana,” he said. “But I know the Ohio State match is an important one. The good thing is that it can make our season, but it can’t break it.”

Kantar said the early-season test will be good for a team with lofty goals.

“We as a team have tremendous potential,” he said. “But what separates potential from greatness is the ability to show up week after week and excel. That’s what we need to do.”

Women’s host pair

While the men’s tennis team takes to the road this weekend, the women’s team will play host to two Big Ten conference opponents in unranked Ohio State on Friday and No. 38 Indiana on Sunday.

The Gophers, ranked No. 47 in the nation, will look to recover from a 6-0 defeat at the hands of No. 40 Louisiana State on March 14 that concluded their spring break play.

Heading into the full swing of conference play, Minnesota’s weekend will be a mixed bag.

Having an advantage on paper over the Buckeyes on Friday will give way to a tough Indiana squad on Sunday that will be the highest ranked opponent the Gophers (8-5, 0-1) will have faced in nearly two months.

Along with resuming the Big Ten season, in which Minnesota opened with a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Iowa in early March, the Gophers will also be playing their first match at the Baseline Tennis Center in over a month, where they are 3-1 on the season.