Jan. 18, 2012
Just over two months after the fall season came to a close, the 25-ranked Minnesota men’s tennis team will begin the 2012 spring season by hosting Marquette in a dual-match at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Baseline Tennis Center. The competition, which is free and open to the public, is the first match of the year for Marquette as well.
“I am excited to start the season,” said head coach Geoff Young. “We have had a good week of practice and the guys look pretty good. I think we are playing pretty well and now it is just time to do it against another team.”
Minnesota owns a 4-0 all-time record against the Golden Eagles after beating them 6-1 in last year’s opener. Saturday will mark the fourth time in program history that Minnesota will open the season against Marquette. The Gophers defeated the Eagles 6-1 to begin the 2000 season and prevailed 7-0 on Jan. 30, 2009.
The Gophers will welcome five newcomers to the team after losing three seniors following their 2011 NCAA Tournament loss to Fresno State.
One of those newcomers is 118th-ranked Leandro Toledo, who kicked off his collegiate career with an impressive 11-3 fall singles record that included wins over three top-30 opponents. Toledo and senior Phillip Arndt make up the ITA 55th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation.
Fellow senior Julian Dehn and junior Rok Bonin are ranked 50th in doubles following a 3-2 fall and a 16-1 (6-0 in Big Ten play) record in 2010-11.
In addition to Toledo, Bonin, Dehn, and Arndt, helping fill the void left by 2011 seniors Tobias Wernet, Sebastian Gallego, and Derek Peterson will be senior Michael Sicora, junior Brendan Ruddock, sophomore Juan Pablo Ramirez, and freshmen Mathieu Froment, Jack Hamburg, Eric Frueh, and Tucker Saxon.
Ruddock received the Jerry Noyce Most Improved Player award for the second straight year last season after going 20-12 in singles play.
After its match against Marquette, Minnesota will head to Berkeley, Calif. next weekend to participate in the ITA Kickoff. There, the Gophers will play 27th-ranked San Diego and either No. 14 California or No. 33 LSU.
“I think we have a good team and a deep team,” said Young. “After our first two weekends and first three matches we will have a really good idea of what to work on so we can play to the best of our abilities.”