‘Swiss Miss’ Buergis’ clutch play draws praise from coach

Aaron Blake

In the midst of her tooth-and-nail match with the 46th-ranked women’s tennis player in the country, Angela Buergis received some encouragement from the stands.

“C’mon Swiss Miss!” a spectator said.

The native of Frauenfeld, Switzlerand, looked up and smiled as most of the crowd chuckled upon hearing her little-known nickname.

With the Gophers up 3-2 in Saturday’s match with Ohio State, Buergis’ No. 1 singles match versus Sadhaf Pervez was pivotal. Keeping her mind focused on her opponent despite the large crowd and the ups and downs of the match meant Buergis would earn that fourth point which equated to the Gophers’ first Big Ten title.

“I can’t say enough about Buergis,” coach Tyler Thomson said Saturday. “She came through in the clutch and beat an unbelievably good player. You’ve got to earn every point against Pervez, and Angela did it. She played a very clean, well-thought out match.”

Thomson commented that though Buergis played the clincher – and she eventually did Sunday as well – other players have been stepping up all season long. He said he would have been comfortable with anybody when he needed that fourth point.

He admitted, though, that it was appropriate for her to be the one who delivered the Gophers’ their prize.

Newcomers have been getting it done for Minnesota since the beginning of the season. Buergis, a transfer from William & Mary, in her first season at Minnesota, finished the Big Ten season with a 9-1 record at No. 1 singles after her pair of securing wins.

In addition, freshman Nischela Reddy also finished 9-1 in the conference with a pair of quick victories this weekend.

Incidentally, the two have paired as a team for an 8-0 record in Big Ten doubles as well. Overall, each has done her part week in and week out for the Gophers and provided a nearly-automatic two points in every match.

Buergis’ upset Saturday was a testament to the resolve that is characteristic of Thomson’s squad. With Michaela Havelkova fighting to win her second set versus Jackie Leskovar, Buergis took it upon herself to rally after a rugged second set of her own.

“I noticed that Michaela was struggling next to me,” Buergis said. “And I like being in that situation. I’ve been there before, and it’s awesome. Everybody’s cheering and everybody’s pumped up. It helps a lot.”

The crowd shifted its focus to Buergis after Havelkova lost a second set in which she led 5-4 but fell 7-5. With Havelkova just beginning a third set and Buergis in the middle of hers, the No. 1 singles match became center stage for the Gophers Big Ten title performance.

Buergis outwitted Pervez in the first set, winning 6-3 by placing her shots out of Pervez’s reach. Thomson met with Buergis after the set and was greeted by a big smile when he congratulated her.

Pervez got some recourse in the second, taking it in smooth fashion by a 6-3 margin.

“I knew that I probably had to win that match for the team, and it just started well,” Buergis said. “In the second set I was missing my shots and letting her do what she wanted to do instead of controlling the game.”

A falling backhand which thrilled the crowd gave Buergis a 5-3 advantage in the third set. In the following game, Pervez’s backhand into the net netted the match and the title.

For the third straight set, Buergis smiled.

This time, everyone joined her.

Women’s golf

For the first time since returning from its trip to Hawaii more than a month ago, the sun seemed to shine on Minnesota’s women’s golf team.

Playing in warm temperatures at the Lady Buckeye Spring Classic in Columbus, Ohio, the Gophers gave their best performance of the spring season.

Minnesota shot a final round score of 317 on the par 72, 6,037-yard Ohio State University Scarlet Course to finish fifth out of eleven schools. The Gophers’ best tournament finish this spring prior to Sunday had been seventh.

“We had great weather and the team had a great tournament,” Minnesota head coach Katie Weiss said.

Sophomore Terra Petsinger shot the Gophers’ best round of the tournament – an opening round 73 – and finished in a tie for 10th with a 228 (+10). Senior Karyn Stordahl came in 14th with a 230 (+14).

But Weiss credited younger players Sarah Butler and Katie Jacobson for giving the team added spark. Butler fired a 248 (+32) and finished in a tie for 43rd while Jacobsen carded a 253 (+37), good for a 52nd place tie.

“We haven’t gotten consistent scores from our fourth golfer,” Weiss said. “We need someone to step up and make a significant improvement to solidify that spot.”

The Gophers are hoping they will see that happen by the time they travel to Iowa City for the Big Ten Championships this weekend.

Minnesota is hoping to improve on its last-place finish in the conference a year ago, especially after playing so well in Columbus.

“I’d like to see us finish in the top six,” Stordahl said. “We’ve been shooting consistently between 315 and 320, and we need to shave another five to 10 strokes off that to do it.”

– Brett Angel, Staff Reporter