The Minnesota men's tennis team went 21-8 and won a Big Ten title in 2014-15
Geoff Young, Urban Ljubic, Leandro Toledo and Matic Spec each earned 2015 ITA Division I Central Region awards
The Gophers will play No. 36 Princeton in the first round in Charlottesville, Va. May 8
Leandro Toledo was named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year and All, while Matic Spec and head coach Geoff Young also earned awards
The four men's tennis seniors have led the Gophers to 56 wins in their four years
In ten years at the helm of the Minnesota tennis tennis team, Geoff Young has turned Minnesota into one of the premier teams in the Big Ten conference. They have made the NCAA Tournament in seven of those seasons.
The 2015-16 edition of the Gophers was a rebuilding one coming off one of the greatest seasons in program history. The roster had four freshman and two sophomores with just one junior and two seniors. The team went 8-18 with its biggest win coming at home against No. 39 Penn State late in the year. In a thrilling win the Gophers won 4-3 with freshman Justyn Levin sealing the victory. The season did see some big individual highlights. Sophomores Matic Spec and Felix Corwin were a highly ranked doubles pairing and won the ITA Central Region Championship together. Spec earned All-Big Ten honors for his strong season playing at the No. 1 singles spot.
The 2014-15 Gophers made a 10-win improvement from the season before and finished ranked 21st in the nation. They did not lose a single game at home and went 10-1 in Big Ten play to share the conference title for the first time since 1995. Young was named the ITA Region Coach of the Year and conference coach of the year. He also coached the conference player of the year in All-American Leandro Toledo. Along with that he coached Matic Spec to a First Team All-Big Ten selection. The Gophers made the national tournament and finished with a 21-8 overall record.
Not only was the team successful on the court but in the classroom as well with all seven players earning Academic All-Big Ten honors.
In a 2013-14 season in which the Gophers had just one senior, Young and the Gophers posted a 11-13 record that included wins over six ranked teams. Young coached junior Leandro Toledo to a third-round appearance at the NCAA Singles Tournament that made the Hamburg, Germany native the school's first All-American since 2002.Additionally, he aided third-year players Jack Hamburg and Mathieu Froment to a breakout season as a doubles tandem that saw the duo reach No. 16 in the national rankings and be selected as an alternate pairing for the NCAA Doubles Tournament.
Toledo was one of four unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selections.
In 2012-13, the Maroon and Gold had a strong season after first struggling at the beginning of the year. The squad fought back to a 15-11 overall finish. The Golden Gophers banded together to go on a 9-1 run to close out the regular season in second place, Minnesota's highest placement since 2000, among the heavy hitters of the Big Ten Conference and earn its fifth-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament. The Gophers ended the season at No. 33 in the ITA Men's Division I College Tennis Rankings and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fifth-straight year, making Minnesotaone of only four Big Ten schools (Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State) to accomplish the feat.
Young coached two members of the squad to earn First Team All-Big Ten accolades. Senior Rok Bonin was named a unanimous selection for the second straight year after leading the squad with a 25-13 overall record. With 73 total doubles wins (73-39), Bonin claimed a place on Minnesota's all-time winners list, tying for fifth in program history. Then-sophomore Toledo claimed the other postseason award after another promising season. He finished the regular season with a 9-2 mark against conference opponents and totaled a 25-11 overall record through the year. He also made history as the first Gopher since 2002 to qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Minnesota, which regularly played three freshman in the lineup, went 13-8 during the 2011-12 season and ended the regular season ranked No. 36 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Gophers were 8-3 in the Big Ten, which tied them with Illinois for third place in the conference. Minnesota was especially strong at home, posting an 8-1 record at the pristine Baseline Tennis Center.
Seven of Minnesota's 13 wins were against ranked opponents and the team's highest profile victory was a 4-3 home triumph against No. 28 Michigan. The win allowed the Gophers to keep the Little Brown Jug, which Minnesota secured with a 5-2 upset win at No. 22 Michigan in 2011. Minnesota also won the Border Battle for the second straight year against Wisconsin with a 6-1 victory.
Minnesota's season ended in a gallant 4-2 loss to No. 20 and Round of 16 qualifier Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Gophers were 19-6 during the 2010-11 season and ended the year ranked No. 23 by the ITA. Both of those accomplishments are highs of the Young era. Minnesota finished third in the Big Ten in the regular season and advanced to the Big Ten tournament final for the first time since 2003. Young was named the ITA Central Region Coach of the Year as a result of Minnesota's success.
Minnesota was 8-2 in conference play, and avenged a regular-season loss to Indiana to advance to the Big Ten tournament final. Minnesota's six defeats all came to teams ranked in the top 40. Five came to teams ranked in the top 30 and three defeats were to teams in the top six.
In addition to the upset win at Michigan, the Gophers also beat No. 18 Illinois on the road to pick up their first win--and snap a 19-match skid to the Illini--since 1996. Minnesota's season also included two wins (regular season and Big Ten tournament) against border-rival Wisconsin and a dramatic 4-3 road win at 25th-ranked Miami (Fla.). The Gophers' season ended when they were upset by Fresno State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
In 2009-10, Minnesota finished 14-11 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten to finish fifth. The Gophers played a challenging schedule with all 11 losses coming to teams in the top 30 of the national rankings. Included in the schedule was a win against No. 24 Pepperdine and NCAA tournament participants Nebraska and Western Michigan. The Gophers opened the NCAA tournament with a win against Arizona before falling to third-ranked Texas in the second round.
In 2008-09, Minnesota posted a 19-8 overall record and 7-3 Big Ten mark, which came just one year after a 7-17 overall record and 4-6 Big Ten ledger the year before. The Gophers were ranked 30th in the final rankings and made their 14th trip to the NCAA tournament in the past 16 years and their 20th overall, beating New Mexico in the opening round before falling to eventual national champion and eighth-ranked Southern California.
For just the seventh time in school history, the Gophers had six different players post 20 singles wins during 2008-09, including Ishay Hadash, who reached the second round of the NCAA individual tournament and finished 50th in the final ITA rankings.
In 2007-08, Young's team won five of its last eight matches to set the foundation for the record-setting turnaround the following year. Minnesota had three wins and 16 losses coming against nationally-ranked opponents. The Gophers, who played 11 matches against NCAA tournament teams, were ranked as high as 40th in the country following the fall season, but early-season injuries got the team off to a slow start in the spring. The season came following a successful inaugural season to Young's tenure that saw the Gophers reach the NCAA tournament.
Young guided Minnesota to a 15-10 overall record and a 5-5 mark in the Big Ten in his first season in 2006-07. Minnesota was ranked sixth in the final Midwest Region rankings and lost to South Alabama in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Young owns a 192-170 overall record in 15 collegiate seasons as a head coach. He won his 100th match on Feb. 22, 2009 against Binghamton and his 150th match on March 3, 2012 at Virginia Tech. Young is 121-102 in ten seasons at Minnesota.
Off the court, Young's squads have also achieved success. His squad had the highest grade-point average of any men's sport at Minnesota for the two straigh years in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. In 2009-10, the Gophers had the highest grade-point average of any small men's sport at Minnesota and senior Dino Bilankov was named the school's Outstanding Male Scholar Athlete. The 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014-15 teams were also recognized with the school's award for most community service hours by a men's sport.
Prior to coming to Minnesota, Young spent six seasons as head coach at the University of Denver. During his tenure with the Pioneers, Young posted a 71-68 overall record. In his final season in 2005-06, he led Denver to a 13-9 record and then a program-best fourth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference and a No. 66 national ranking.
While at Denver, he worked with the Pioneers' all-time winningest player Magnus Ramfelt, who totaled 71 singles wins from 1998-2002. He also coached Adam Holmstrom, who set a single-season school record with 28 singles wins in 2005-06. Holmstrom also became the first Pioneers' player to qualify for the NCAA championships in his rookie season.
Young served as the head women's tennis coach at Denver during the 1999-2000 season and during the fall of 2000. In his one season, the Pioneers finished 9-8 in Denver's second season at the NCAA Division I level. Prior to his stint at Denver, Young served as an assistant men's coach at the University of Alabama for three seasons.
A two-time all-Big Ten player at Northwestern, Young was the team's co-captain during his senior season in 1994 and collected 83 singles victories. He graduated from Northwestern in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
A Marion, Ohio native, Young was also a successful junior tennis player. He was ranked No. 1 in singles in the Midwest region 18-and-under division in 1989 and No. 1 in doubles in 1990.
Young is married to the former Dana Peterson, a four-time letterwinner with the Gopher women's tennis team from 1993-96 and an assistant coach at Minnesota from 1997-99. Dana was also the head women's tennis coach at Denver for six seasons. They have three children.
As head coach of the Gophers, Young is a strong believer in working as hard at doubles as on the singles court. Coach Young spends time with each player on an individual level, working with them on their specific needs to help make each Gopher a well-rounded, complete collegiate player.
"If I can recruit players with great attitudes who love tennis, then we will be able to develop these players to the top level of college tennis," Young said. "Doubles is an area we must excel if we are going to reach our goals. Therefore, we practice doubles nearly every day.
"My philosophy is to take each player's strengths and weaknesses and develop their game accordingly so their strengths are maximized and their weaknesses are minimized. Our focus will be on trying to really get better and have a great spirit about ourselves and our own identity during matches. The wins and losses will take care of themselves in a positive light if we are able to accomplish this team spirit."
Gophers Headline Aquatennial
The University of Minnesota had a combination of 17 former and current Gopher student-athletes who competed at the 21st Aquatennial Tennis Classic this past week.
Gophers Compete in US Open Qualifier
Six University of Minnesota tennis student-athletes and head coach Chuck Merzbacher competed in the US Open Sectional Qualifier, this weekend at the Baseline Tennis Center.
Baseline Hosting US Open Sectional Qualifier
The Baseline Tennis Center is hosting a US Open Sectional Qualifier with six current Gopher tennis players participating.