Gophers send three players to nationals after no players qualified last season

Stefan Milicevic will participate in the singles tournament while Felix Corwin and Matic Spec compete in doubles

Max Biegert

Sophomore Stefan Milicevic is looking forward to seeing what he is made of in his first trip to the fall nationals.

Last week the Gophers swept the ITA Central Regionals at the Baseline Tennis Center. Milicevic, along with doubles partners, Felix Corwin and Matic Spec earned their way to the Oracle Fall National Championships at Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which will feature the 64 best players in the country, in Indian Wells, Calif.

This is a five-day tournament, with 64 players in each of the men’s and women’s divisions, along with 32 doubles teams for both the men’s and women’s tournament. There is a full consolation bracket, however, the competitors are only guaranteed two matches. 

“I am looking forward for them to keep working on their games,” said head coach Geoff Young. “It will be a good indicator of what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong and for them to learn about their games for the spring.”

This will be Stefan Milicevic’s first trip to nationals. The sophomore earned his way to nationals after reaching the final last week, but he then went on to beat Toby Boyer of Nebraska for good measure.  In his first match of the tournament he will face Mike Pervolarakis from Portland. 

“I’m not very concerned with the results, because if I accomplish my goals like staying calm and not getting frustrated, the results will naturally come,” Milicevic said. 

This will be Corwin and Spec’s second time competing in the fall nationals. Their previous trip to the nationals saw them win one out of three matches. They beat a duo form Oklahoma State to get into nationals. In their first match of the tournament, they will be battling a duo from Clemson to get their tournament started. 

The duo came into the season as the No. 55 doubles team in America. They won the doubles Gold Draw Championship together last year at the Gopher Invite and have shared many wins together over the past three years, with each of them in the senior season now. In 2016, they went 11-3 overall when paired together.

“Corwin and Spec are smart players, they know what they do well,” Young said. “For them, it is more about staying committed to their level of aggressiveness and it will be easier to do that because they are playing such good teams.”

In Milicevic’s freshman season he proved he could be one of the best players on the team. In the spring of his freshman year he finished with a record of 17-7 in singles play. He played the majority of the season in the No. 3 spot going 15-7. He played one match at the No. 1 spot and he won that one. His total record including the fall of last year was very an impressive 22-9. 

Milicevic is one of many players from Eastern Europe on the team. He grew up in Belgrade, Serbia, in the same region that assistant coach Urban Ljubic reigns from. Milicevic said it is nice to have someone like Ljubic on his side because he knows that he understands him. Milicevic said that tennis is a very big deal in his country and to have a coach who is also aware of the same goals that he has is very important to him. He is confident in himself and in his game and that should bode well for his performance at Indian Wells.

“I am pretty internally confident because I have worked very hard and I’m looking forward to seeing how I can match up and become one of the best players in the country,” Milicevic said.