Toledo qualifies for NCAAs

Leandro Toledo went 7-3 against ranked opponents during the regular season.

Minnesotas Leandro Toledo plays a singles match against Penn State at the Baseline Tennis Center on Sunday, April 6, 2014.

Lisa Persson

Minnesota’s Leandro Toledo plays a singles match against Penn State at the Baseline Tennis Center on Sunday, April 6, 2014.

by Jace Frederick

Elation rushed through Leandro Toledo when he glanced down at his iPhone on Wednesday afternoon.

He’d just gotten a text message from head coach Geoff Young informing him that he’d been selected to compete in the NCAA singles tournament.

“I was just super happy to find out that I made it,” Toledo said. “I know all the hard work paid off.”

It was a moment Toledo couldn’t have imagined a few months ago. He struggled in the fall season and needed a stellar spring session to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Toledo wasn’t within sniffing distance of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, let alone the NCAA tournament.

“I wasn’t really sure if I could beat [the top guys],” he said. “And my confidence wasn’t really high.”

That all changed with the second match of the spring season. Toledo topped then-No. 22 Greg Andrews of Notre Dame, a match he said turned the tide on his season.

He’s been rolling ever since.

Toledo cruised to an 18-6 record, going 8-3 against Big Ten opponents — enough to earn his first individual postseason bid.

“It’s really hard to make NCAAs. It’s a really good accomplishment for him,” Young said. “He really had to have a phenomenal spring semester, which he did.”

The draw for the singles bracket has yet to be released, but when it is, Toledo is sure to face a daunting path filled with some of the nation’s top players.

Gophers assistant coach and former No. 1 singles player Rok Bonin made the NCAA singles tournament last year. He said the environment feels a lot like a professional tournament.

But don’t expect Toledo to shy away from the difficult competition — he’s proven he belongs among the elite.

Toledo went 7-3 against nationally ranked opponents this season, including a signature win over then-No. 8 Peter Kobelt of Ohio State.

“It gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can beat even the top-ranked guys in the draw,” he said. “I know I don’t have to hide.”

Bonin, who’s watched Toledo develop since the junior came to campus, said he’s seen Toledo play “really good” and “really bad” tennis at different times.

Bonin said if the junior is able to put his best foot forward at the national tournament, he’s more than capable of making some noise.

“He’s good enough to win a couple of rounds,” Bonin said. “I hope it’s going to be one of his good days where he can beat

Toledo plans to work out some kinks in his game during practice over the next few weeks so he can play his best tennis when the tournament starts May 21 in Athens, Ga.

Though making the NCAA tournament was one of Toledo’s goals, he knows he’s capable of more — something his coach conveyed to him in the text Wednesday.

“I told him I was proud of him and he deserves it,” Young said. “And now it’s time to train hard so that he can get some more wins.”

Hamburg, Froment named NCAA alternates

The Gophers doubles tandem of juniors Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg was selected as the fourth alternate for the NCAA doubles field.

Froment and Hamburg went 6-1 in the Big Ten during a season in which they won 13-straight matches before dropping their final two.

They will enter the field if four of the selected teams drop out of the competition.