Minnesota men’s tennis earns two conference victories

The Gophers improved to 3-0 in conference play.

Junior Josip Krstanovic returns the ball during his singles match at the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Feb. 2.

Jack Rodgers

Junior Josip Krstanovic returns the ball during his singles match at the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday, Feb. 2.

Max Biegert

Minnesota came into conference play over the weekend with a 1-0 record in the Big Ten.

By the end of their two duals, the Gophers remained undefeated.

No. 35 Minnesota (10-4, 3-0) beat Nebraska (9-6, 0-3) 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Baseline Tennis Center, after taking down Iowa 4-3 on Friday. The Gophers grabbed the doubles point Sunday after victories from the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. From there, Minnesota controlled the singles competition and clinched the victory.

“It was a shaky start, but we stopped the bleeding and got the doubles point,” head coach Geoff Young said. “It’s a good thing even when you are not playing your best, to be able to pull it out is a positive.”

The doubles portion of the dual was very tight. Minnesota’s 78th-ranked duo Felix Corwin and Matic Spec dropped their match 2-6 in the No. 1 spot. The Gophers were going to need victories in the final two spots to secure the doubles point and they did. First, Marino Alpeza and Stefan Milicevic picked up the hard-fought victory 7-5. About 10 seconds later, the duo of Josip Krstanovic and Justyn Levin won 6-4.

Spec made quick work of his opponent, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-0 in the No. 2 singles position. Milicevic followed suit winning in straight sets as well 6-1, 6-4 in the No. 3 spot.

Krstanovic earned the clinching point for the dual. He won in straight sets 6-0, 6-4. Krstanovic clinched the Gophers win earlier in the weekend in Iowa as well.

Corwin lost his first set to the Minnesota native Toby Boyer, but battled back to take the next two. Jackson Allen also added a three-set victory.

“We are just getting it done in multiple ways and getting up 4-0 right away was important,” Spec said. “At the end of the day, these wins help build confidence for matches to come.”

Gophers win in tight match against Iowa

The Gophers match against Iowa came down to the No. 6 spot and Krstanovic out-battled his opponent to clinch the victory for the Gophers.

Minnesota beat Iowa (9-9, 1-2) 4-3 on Friday afternoon in Iowa City, Iowa. The match couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Gophers as they took down a pair ranked doubles teams for Iowa. Krstanovic’s singles match went three sets and was decided in a tiebreak.

“[In] doubles, we didn’t get broken at all and that is rare, so I was happy about that,” Young said. “They are a good team; to get it on the road feels good.”

Krstanovic’s thrilling day began in doubles. The unranked pairing of Levin and Krstanovic pulled off the upset in the No. 2 doubles spot, beating the No. 40 ranked duo Piotr Smietana and Will Davies of Iowa 6-4. That match clinched the doubles point for Minnesota.

Corwin and Spec defeated No. 70 Kareem Allaf and Jonas Larsen of Iowa 6-2.

Both Corwin and Spec transitioned nicely into singles competition. Corwin defeated his opponent in straight sets — 6-1, 6-2. Spec was locked in a tight battle against Smietana, but pulled out the victory 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

“It was very big win, that was a very tough match,” Krstanovic said. “I saw that the guy I was playing was on an eight match winning streak and I was glad to end it in clinching fashion which is always fun.”