Freshman Vlad Lobak had yet to appear in a doubles match for the Gopher Men’s Tennis team during the spring season, but when his number was called, he answered.
Lobak and his partner, Eli Ogilvy won their doubles match against Penn on Feb. 25 in dominating fashion, controlling the third spot, 6-2. The win completed the doubles sweep for the Gophers, and put their team up 1-0 over their Ivy League opponent. Minnesota won the match 6-1, but Lobak and Ogilvy’s hot start catalyzed the win for Minnesota.
"That win was really important to me because it was my first doubles [match], and I really liked playing in this atmosphere," said Lobak. While he has yet to make a large impact on the court, his teammates see his potential for the future.
“I think Vlad has a lot of potential,” said teammate Josip Krstanovic. “I really want to see where he’s going to go in the next year or two, because I think he can really help out the team with a lot of good tennis.”
The freshman credits Krstanovic for helping him in his transition to America, especially his good example of a hard-working player. Lobak and Krstanovic each had key singles victories for the Gophers against Sacramento State back on Feb. 2, with Josip playing second singles for the first time while Lobak won his debut singles match, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, in the no. 6 slot. Through the entire season, Lobak is 3-2 in singles play and 4-3 in doubles.
Lobak hails from Kiev, Ukraine, and, admittedly, had some culture shock coming to live in the United States for the first time. He noted that he misses his family, but the culture in his new home is something that makes his transition easier.
“At the beginning it was so hard to adjust to everything: culture, food, being out of your country,” Lobak said. “But then, I made friends, and I understood that everything is not that bad and I’m in a good spot. I am proud to be on the Gopher tennis team, and I want to treat my teammates as best as I can.”
Lobak enjoys the culture that Minnesota has brought him, and is looking forward to what the future holds for his young career.
“I’ve been playing tennis a long time, for 12 years now, so I am getting the hang of what needs to be done,” Lobak said. “I think everyone here understands that too, they know how they need to play and how to work hard on their individual game. I think it’s about working hard every day and trusting the process.”
Lobak and the Gophers will take a much-needed rest this weekend after winning six straight duals. Minnesota will head out on the road next Wednesday to take on UCF in Orlando. First serve is set for 5:00 p.m. CT.
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