|Minnesota (1-2, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Sacramento State (0-2, 0-0 Big Sky)
||Friday, Feb. 2, 2:30 p.m.|
|Location||Baseline Tennis Center|
|Follow Live||Live Stream/Scoring|
| Further Reading
||Match Day Program|
|Social Media||@GopherMTennis | Facebook | Instagram|
MINNEAPOLIS - The Gopher Men's Tennis program returns home to Baseline Tennis Center for a Friday matinee against Sacramento State.
After an impressive fall that saw him leap into the national rankings, sophomore Stefan Milicevic has seen a steep jump in competition, facing off against the no. 16, no. 36, and no. 45-ranked players in the nation through his first three matches of dual season. While he's dropped two decisions in that span, he knows one of the keys to turning that fortune around is not letting his emotions get in his ways.
"I must admit, my opponents are tougher," Milicevic said after practice this week. "So, I need to be physically ready and keep my mind healthy to be a tough opponent [myself]. I need to stay positive and avoid the negative. That's the main thing for me. It doesn't matter if you're 16, 35, or 45, we all kind of play the same. You just need to stay committed to the game in order to prevail in the match."
While Minnesota is just 1-2 on the season, Milicevic sees the team working hard to put that behind them.
"We're still adjusting. We all need to play like a team. If we perform our best, I believe we can be a top-15 team in the country," he credits his senior teammates Felix Corwin and Matic Spec for setting a standard. "They're two years older than me. They're amazing leaders. They always try to keep the energy up and give pieces of advice. [During] my freshman year, I didn't want to learn, but now that I've opened myself up, I've learned a lot from them. I am very thankful."
As for this week's match-up with the Hornets, Milicevic is focused on doing his part but sees a team win as most important. "I just want us to be a team. If we do that ... I'm pretty certain that we will win most of our matches."
The Gophers have faced three tough opponents yet this season. After being narrowly edge in the team's opener against NC State, Minnesota knocked off Tennessee 4-3 in the opener of the ITA Kickoff Tournament in Austin, Texas on Saturday. In Sunday's qualifier for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the Maroon & Gold were knocked off by Notre Dame 4-1, who jumped into the national rankings this week (no. 23) after also defeating new-no. 13 Texas on the weekend.
Despite sending a wide variety of doubles teams to the court during fall tournament season, Minnesota has settled on the same three pairs for each of their three duals this spring. That strategy produced doubles points in the first two outings, but the Gophers dropped the doubles session for the first time last Sunday against Notre Dame. Still, the team is 5-2 in doubles decisions during dual season. Justyn Levin and Josip Krstanovic are still a perfect 2-0 in second doubles on the year.
Gophers in the Rankings
Stefan Milicevic enjoyed a breakout fall performance, ranking no. 35 nationally per the Oracle/ITA Division I Men's Rankings following tournament season after posting an 11-3 record and winning the ITA Central Regional Championship at Baseline. Matic Spec remained in the singles rankings, landing at no. 73 after finishing 5-5 in the fall including a 2-2 mark against nationally-ranked competition. He and Felix Corwin also made a big leap in the doubles poll as the no. 26-ranked pair following the fall season. They posted a 6-3 record including an ITA Central Region Doubles Championship. The next singles and doubles rankings release next week.
Returning All-Big Ten
Minnesota returns three All-Big Ten honorees from a season ago in Matic Spec, Felix Corwin, and Josip Krstanovic. Spec landed on the First Team All-Big Ten with a 21-16 overall mark and 6-6 mark against conference foes. Corwin landed on the Second Team All-Big Ten with a 23-13 mark and a 7-6 conference record. Krstanovic posted a 21-9 record in his sophomore season and earned Minnesota's Big Ten Sportsmanship award.
Scouting the Hornets
Sacramento State has opened its season 0-2, dropping decisions at Saint Mary's and home to Cal Poly. The team finished 13-12 a season ago ... former Hornets assistant coach Kevin Kurtz was promoted to head coach just days ago on Jan. 26, 2018 ... junior Mikus Losberg returns after earning First Team All-Big Sky Conference honors a season ago, slotting into first singles in both matches this dual season ... Sacramento State has used different line-ups behind Losberg in each match this season, with six different players playing in singles. Losberg and Kasparas Zemaitelis have lined up at first singles both matches this season, while Hermont Legaspi and Bernardo Moraes have slotted in at second. Both teams are 1-1 ... this will be a first-time meeting between the Gophers and Hornets at Baseline.
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