Women get on board with first Big Ten win

Zach Eisendrath

One day after being shut out on its home courts, Minnesota’s women’s tennis team picked up its first win of the Big Ten season.

The Gophers downed Wisconsin 4-3 on Sunday in dramatic fashion. On Saturday, Minnesota fell 7-0 to the Big Ten’s elite team, ninth-ranked Northwestern.

“It will be nice to go to practice next week, having won our last match,” coach Tyler Thomson said. “It was a long time coming. We’ve been doing the right things and practicing hard and had some real close matches. It’s nice having it go our way for a change.”

In large part, Minnesota can thank sophomore Danielle Mousseau for its first conference victory.

After senior Nischela Reddy and junior Ida Malmberg won 8-3 at No. 1 doubles and Shelby Roherer and Jenna Tellefsen fell 8-1 at the No. 3 spot, the all-important doubles point came down to Mousseau and freshman Mariana Spilca at second doubles.

Mousseau and Spilca defeated Morgan Tuttle and Chelsea Nusslock in a tiebreaker, 9-9 (7-5) to give the Gophers the early 1-0 lead.

After the Badgers won by default at six singles when Marina Bugaenco retired after one set against Lexi Goldin and Spilca fell in straight sets 6-0, 6-2 to Carpenter, the Gophers rallied to tie up singles when Reddy and Malmberg won at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions, respectively.

But after sophomore Jane Anderson lost at five singles, it came down to Mousseau to secure Minnesota’s first Big Ten win.

Mousseau won the first set against Nicole Beck 6-4 but then dropped the second set 6-3 to set up a winner-take-all third set.

Up 2-1 in the third, Mousseau was broke to tie the set at 2-2. However, Mousseau broke right back to take a 3-2 lead. The next game, it looked as if Mousseau would be broken once again – down 0-40 – but won six of the next seven points to steal the game and eventually win the set 6-2 – ending the match and the dual.

“I blocked everything out – my coach, everyone,” Mousseau said. “I just focused on the ball. I barely even saw my opponent; I just took it one point at a time. I have to play smart. I can’t let any points go.

“I felt like it was kind of down to me today, and I actually came up with it (Sunday).”

Mousseau’s pressure-packed day left Thomson impressed.

“She just had a great today,” he said. “She really showed a lot of poise. She stepped up in doubles and was taking some risks and some chances and going with the flow of the match.”

Last year’s dual against Ohio State also came down to Mousseau, but she couldn’t convert. She didn’t fall victim to the same fate her second time around.

“It’s really nice to finally get one to go my way Ö especially against Wisconsin,” Mousseau said.

Most everyone on the Gophers’ side agreed that the disappointment of being blanked by the Wildcats fueled Sunday’s win.

“We got down on ourselves Saturday,” Malmberg said. “Obviously Northwestern is a really good team, but we went in there with way too much respect, and it kind of showed in the results. Sunday, we really wanted to win. I think everyone played their heart out.”

Thomson said he asked his team to play with more determination after Saturday’s loss.

“As a team we weren’t satisfied with the amount of fight we had (Saturday). That was our main goal as a team (Sunday) to be close to a 10 on the scale of 1 to 10 in fight,” he said. “I think there was a lot of fight throughout the whole team (Sunday).”

Men win pair

It was another reassuring weekend for Minnesota’s men’s tennis team. The 40th-ranked Gophers beat the Badgers 5-2 Sunday and the Wildcats 5-2 Saturday to stretch their conference winning streak to four games.

Minnesota lost at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions and at No. 1 doubles but did everything else right to knock off Wisconsin.

After Andres Osorio and Sion Wilkins gave the Gophers the doubles point with their win at two doubles, Minnesota went on to win the three through six singles positions to cruise to victory.

“Minnesota is a top team and will probably finish among the top three in the Big Ten,” Wisconsin coach Greg Van Emburgh said. “They are a good solid team and tough to beat.”