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Women’s tennis enters conference homestretch, 8-match losing streak

Minnesota currently sits at 5-12, with five more regular season matches until the Big Ten Tournament.
The team’s remaining matches will be recorded as forfeits. Photo taken by Brad Rempel.

The Gophers women’s tennis team has had an up-and-down 2023 spring season. After opening February with four straight victories, they’re currently knee-deep in an eight-match losing streak.

The Maroon & Gold have shown flashes that they can compete with anyone in the country. They are currently competing with an abbreviated roster, which has cost them a number of matches this season.

“We unfortunately were hit with some injuries and illness, some not tennis related,” said head coach Catrina Thompson. “We were hoping to have players back sooner, which just hasn’t been the case.”

Nonetheless, they have still proven to be a competitive team with an overall record of 5-12.

The team opened their season in January when they competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) annual opening-weekend tournament. Sixty teams competed in the tournament overall among six locations.

Returning athletes Zeyneb Sarioglan and Lucy Lu, joined by first-year students Anet Koskel and Aiva Schmitz as well as transfer student Zoey Weil, represented the Gophers and played in a four team bracket with Texas Tech, Tulsa and Oklahoma. The Gophers lost 4-0 to Oklahoma on day one of the tournament and went on to lose to Tulsa University in the consolation round.

The Gophers traveled home after what was a rough tournament, but they went on to prove themselves on their home court by going on a 4-match win streak. The streak ultimately ended when the Gophers hit the road again and were defeated by Washington State and once again in their conference opener against Nebraska.

Minnesota quickly rebounded at home when Koskel gave the Gophers the edge in a tied match, which led to Minnesota’s first ever win against Utah. Koskel defeated Katya Townsend 2-1 at No. 1 singles.

“We had a really good win against Utah, who was ranked 36th in the country at the time,” Thompson said. “That’s a feat to the four players on our team that competed that day.”

The Gophers’ impressive victory was followed up by an ongoing 8-match losing streak, with their most recent loss being on Sunday against Maryland. Many of the Gophers’ struggles came from a lack of competitors in the fifth and sixth singles positions due to injury. This requires Minnesota to automatically forfeit 2 points.

“We kind of knew early on when we started the spring season that we were going to be down a few players and mentally had to shift where we were at,” Thompson said.

The Gophers are currently one position short, as freshman Sofia Pizzoni came back to the court on Friday to play the fifth singles position against Maryland.

The Maroon & Gold will host Northwestern for their next match on April 14 at 3:30 p.m.

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